Earlier this month, a Philadelphia medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $215,000 for economic damages and $5.5 million for noneconomic damages (pain and suffering) against a hospital that allegedly failed to properly diagnose and treat a suicidal patient who later used a chair to smash a fourth-floor hospital window when he was left alone and jumped out of the window, thereby sustaining fractured vertebrae, fractured ankles, fractured heels, and a fractured jaw, which required surgery.
The man’s saga began early in the morning on July 17, 2014, when police brought him to the hospital, believing that he had been a victim of an assault while he was high on narcotics. The man was found to be suffering from multiple stab wounds to his abdomen.
When a drug test at the hospital came back negative, further investigation determined that the man’s superficial stab wounds were self-inflicted. Later that morning, while he was being transferred to another hospital, the ambulance personnel noted that the man was speaking rapidly and that he was incoherent.
Upon arrival at the second hospital, the man was noted to be psychiatrically impaired. About three hours after arriving at the second hospital, the man was sent for monitoring to a room on the fourth floor of the hospital, where he sat quietly for almost fourteen hours. Then, without warning, the man used a chair to break the window in his room and jumped.
The Philadelphia medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the second hospital had negligently failed to diagnose the man as being a suicide risk, and to take timely and appropriate precautions in light of that diagnosis. The defense argued that the hospital medical staff did not breach the standard of care and that it was reasonable to believe that the man was high on PCP despite the negative toxicology screen. The defense further argued that it was reasonable for the hospital medical staff to believe that the man’s abdominal wounds were not self-inflicted, and noted that the man denied suicidal ideation when he arrived and also when he was sent to the fourth-floor room to be monitored, where he sat quietly for almost fourteen hours before breaking the window and jumping. The defense argued to the Philadelphia medical malpractice jury that there was nothing the hospital medical staff could have done to prevent the man’s suicide attempt (e.g., it was not foreseeable that the man would use a chair to smash the window and then jump to the lawn below).
While the plaintiff’s medical malpractice lawyer said his client was satisfied with the Philadelphia medical malpractice jury’s verdict, the defense attorney refused to comment.
If you lost a loved one due to suicide for which medical negligence may have caused or contributed to the death, you should find a medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigate your suicide claim for you and represent you or your loved one’s family in a suicide malpractice case, if appropriate.
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