Inpatient Suicide – Mental Health Facility – Psychiatric Unit Negligence

Inpatient Suicide Wrongful Death Attorneys

Holding Negligent and Abusive Mental Health Facilities Responsible for Inpatient Suicide

Inpatient Suicide Wrongful Death AttorneysHospital psychiatric units and inpatient mental health facilities are specifically designed to help people that are troubled. That is why it is so shocking when an inpatient suicide occurs. People that place a loved one in mental health facilities are safe to assume that their loved one will receive the right amount of care and attention. A patient should never have an opportunity or the means to commit suicide.

Unfortunately mental health professionals sometimes fail to exercise reasonable care by under-staffing their facility, hiring unqualified staff, failing to supervise or train staff or by failing to implement suitable safety and treatment guidelines.

1,800 of the 35,000 suicides that are committed every year are inpatient suicides. The average psychiatric nurse will experience a completed suicide during a shift every 2½ years. Hanging is the most common method of suicide in psychiatric hospitals and 3 out 4 suicides happen in the bathroom or bedroom. The bathroom after all provides the most privacy.

Suicide Risk Assessments

Adequate education, training and experience are required in order to perform a proper suicide risk assessment. A detailed demographic profile should be performed which should include marital status, education, employment history, living situation and sexual orientation to name a few. The mental health professional performing the assessment needs to learn if the patient is or has ever considered suicide, if they ever planned a suicide, attempted suicide, if they intend to die via suicide or if they are under an unusual amount of mental or physical stress. While all manner of people commit suicide white males in their adolescent or older years are more at risk as are people that have attempted suicide in the past. The following mental health conditions put the patient at the highest risk for suicide: bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia and substance abuse or dependency and the patient should be question about this.

The suicide risk assessment must be fully documented. Often times the record of the formal risk assessment reveals how the mental health professional underestimated the suicide risk, missed the signs or improperly performed the assessment.

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Causes of Inpatient Suicides

The following is a list of some of the causes of inpatient suicide:

  • Negligent suicide watch
  • Failing to conduct adequate and frequent suicide assessments and adjust monitoring to appropriate level of supervision
  • Misdiagnosing mental illness
  • Under staffing: not having enough staff to monitor patients
  • Failing to remove the patient’s shoe laces or belt
  • Failing to remove dangerous items from the patient when they are admitted
  • Allowing the patient to have access to dangerous items after they are admitted
  • Maintaining shower curtains, door handles and other anchor points that could be used for hanging.
  • Breakaway door handles and shower curtains and rods should be installed
  • Prescribing incorrect and harmful psychotropic drugs
  • Improperly securing or locking windows
  • Providing pajamas with draw strings
  • Not removing all plastic bags from the unit
  • Replacing door hinges with piano hinges

Suicide Watch

According to a 2010 article published by William H. Reid in Law and Psychiatry most incidents result from “inadequate monitoring and protection of new patients with moderate or high suicide risk, or with unknown risk. Unknown or unpredictable risk must be assumed to be ‘high’ until clarified by a qualified clinician.”

Hospital psychiatric units and inpatient mental health facilities are specifically designed to help people that are troubled. That is why it is so shocking when an inpatient suicide occurs. People that place a loved one in mental health facilities are safe to assume that their loved one will receive the right amount of care and attention. A patient should never have an opportunity or the means to commit suicide.

A patient should never have the means to achieve death by suicide. A suicide watch should provide constant monitoring of the patient. Most hospitals use 15-minute checks or Q15 under the mistaken belief that checking in with a suicidal patient every 15 minutes is sufficient to prevent a suicide. Any facility that uses a Q15/15 minute checks with a seriously suicidal patient or a patient with uncertain suicide risk levels is negligent. It takes a minute or two for someone the hang themselves with a shirt and it takes a moment for someone jump out of a window.

Hospital Psychiatric Units and Mental Health Facilities in Massachusetts

The following is a list of some of the Hospital Psychiatric Units and Mental Health Facilities in Massachusetts:

Did your loved one suffer harm or death by suicide as a result of caregiver neglect? Our lawyers can help you hold negligent or abusive caregivers accountable for their actions.

It is important to work with a personal injury attorney to investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s accident or wrongful death in order to determine if the mental health facility has any liability. To learn more about legal actions in cases involving inpatient suicide, neglect, or abuse, contact our law offices today for a FREE legal consultation, where you can find out more information about whether or not the care facility might be liable for compensation. Our experienced team of wrongful death personal injury lawyers can help evaluate the circumstances of your loved one to help you determine if compensation might be available to you.

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