On April 25, 2016, a Connecticut medical malpractice jury returned its verdict against the defendant hospital and the defendant psychiatric advanced-practice registered nurse, holding them responsible for the suicide death of a former psychiatric patient who killed himself due to allegedly negligent psychiatric care.
The jury awarded the plaintiffs more than $12 million, holding the defendant hospital 65% responsible and the defendant nurse 35% responsible. The defendant hospital reportedly had settled with the patient’s family before the Connecticut medical malpractice jury trial.
The Underlying Facts
The 55-year-old man sought help from the defendant hospital in July 2009 because he was suicidal. He was admitted to the defendant hospital for ten days during which the hospital tapered him off of his anti-anxiety medication that he had been taking for ten years and which the family’s Connecticut medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit alleged helped him with his anxiety despite the addictive nature of the medication (benzodiazepine).
The man was discharged into the care of the defendant nurse, who saw him on an outpatient basis on only one occasion before instructing him to return in three months. Nine days later, the man called his mother, drove to a park, and committed suicide. At the time he killed himself, he had been completely off his anti-anxiety medication.
The plaintiff’s Connecticut psychiatric wrongful death lawsuit alleged that the defendant psychiatric nurse “failed to adequately and properly care for, treat, diagnose, monitor and/or supervise [the man] for anxiety, depression, benzodiazepine taper and/or suicidality” and that the nurse further failed to “facilitate getting [the man] into a[n] … intensive outpatient program.”
The Connecticut psychiatric malpractice case was hotly-contested during the three-week trial. The jury deliberated about three hours before rendering its verdict.
The plaintiff’s medical malpractice lawyer stated after the jury’s verdict, “The jury found that they discharged him too prematurely because he was in the middle of withdrawal of the medication that he had become dependent on. They felt that turning him out into the community, even to a health care center, that probably shouldn’t have been done when they did.”
Another of the plaintiff’s medical malpractice attorneys stated, “Part of what makes this case so tragic and so preventable is that he was not afraid to speak out and that he reached out for help again and again.”
Hopefully, the Connecticut psychiatric malpractice jury’s verdict will serve as an awakening by the general public that mental health issues must be appropriately and adequately addressed by mental health providers and when they fail to do so, they will be held responsible for the foreseeable harm that may result from psychiatric negligence (the defense in suicide claims often argue to the jury that a person’s suicide is not their responsibility because a determined suicidal patient will find the opportunity and means to take his own life despite proper psychiatric intervention, and therefore even if the mental health care provider was negligent, such negligence was not the proximate cause of the patient’s death).
If you lost a loved one due to suicide for which faulty mental health care may have contributed to the death, you should find a medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigate your negligent mental health care claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a mental health malpractice case, if appropriate.
Visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with mental health claim lawyers in your state who may assist you.
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