Psychiatric care is full of uncertain outcomes. However, there are times when the link between a hospital or physician’s inept or negligent action and a patient’s suicide seems painfully obvious.
That’s what the family of an 18-year-old woman alleges regarding the young lady’s suicide just days after she voluntarily admitted herself to the psychiatric unit of a hospital in Akron.
In what can only be described as a cross between a farce and a horror story, the young woman was admitted to Summa St. Thomas Hospital early in the morning on Oct. 13, 2017. She told the hospital staff that she was suicidal and even had a plan in place for how she intended to die. She wanted to hang herself. She had previously attempted suicide by hanging some time earlier and survived only because the cord she chose broke.
While she was reportedly initially calm and relieved to be admitted to the hospital where she knew she would get help, her stay quickly turned into a nightmare. The hospital caught on fire and a male nurse left her alone in a locked ward after promising her he’d return for her.
The young woman eventually called her mother from a pay phone in the psychiatric ward begging for help because she had been abandoned. The mother finally convinced hospital staff members to send someone to look.
Eventually, the woman was safely transferred to Akron City Hospital and placed on suicide watch. By that point, she was inconsolable and hysterical. Despite one psychiatrist’s opinion that she needed at least several days of hospitalization, a second psychiatrist stopped into her room for no longer than 10 minutes and said she was being discharged. He told her to make an appointment to see after he got back from his two-week vacation.
Three days later, the young woman hung herself — just as she had said she would.
The young woman’s family, through her estate, is suing for malpractice based on the fact that she was given inadequate care while suicidal and traumatized. They say that directly led to her death.
Psychiatrists can be held accountable for medical malpractice just like any other medical professional can — and they should be. If your loved one died because of psychiatric neglect, find out more about your legal options.