A Washington State mental hospital has agreed to settle a Washington medical malpractice case filed against it that alleged that it was negligent when it failed to monitor and protect a patient admitted for observation that led to his suffering a severe assault that was committed by another patient. The Washington mental hospital malpractice plaintiffs sought $2.5 million for the patient’s assault leading to his death, however the case was settled for $360,000.
The Alleged Underlying Facts
The 43-year-old patient was brought to the Washington State mental hospital on August 26, 2013, for a forensic mental health evaluation after he was arrested. The family’s wrongful death lawsuit alleged that the defendant mental hospital was required to carefully observe the man every fifteen minutes due to his behavior that made him susceptible to assault by other patients. Video surveillance at the defendant hospital allegedly showed another patient, who was supposed to be under extra observation because he had committed at least three unprovoked assaults on other patients during July 2013, enter the bathroom shortly after the man had entered the bathroom. A short time later, the man was found in the bathroom unconscious and bleeding from his head.The man died in a nursing home in November 2013, without regaining consciousness.
The family’s Washington State wrongful death lawsuit alleged that the defendant mental hospital was required to make sure that the man and the other patient not be in an enclosed space together without direct observation.
The sheriff’s office was not called to the scene until four hours after the man was found unconscious in the bathroom and by that time the man had been transported to the hospital and the blood in the bathroom had been cleaned up.
A physician at the mental hospital and a physician at the hospital where the man had been transported after he was found bloodied and unconscious in the bathroom told investigators that they believed that the man had fallen in the bathroom and that there had been no assault. Two people who supposedly were in the bathroom and staff at the mental hospital were also interviewed by investigators.
Despite the video evidence, the blood and bruising on the man’s face, including a cut above his eye when he was found unconscious in the bathroom several minutes after he and the other patient had entered the bathroom, and blood on the walls of the bathroom, the defendant mental hospital alleged that no assault had occurred and that “Law enforcement investigated the circumstances and found no evidence of criminal activity. The medical examiner determined the patient’s death was the result of natural causes.” No autopsy on the man’s body was performed, and the primary cause of death was listed as pneumonia on the man’s death certificate.
If you or a family member may have been injured as a result of psychiatric malpractice while a patient in a mental hospital or in another inpatient or outpatient psychiatric facility in Washington State or in another U.S. state, it is important that a prompt and thorough investigation be undertaken by a medical malpractice attorney or other appropriate professional to determine what happened and why.
Click here to visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be able to assist you with your possible mental health malpractice claim, or call us toll free in the United States at 800-295-3959.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.