Medical Malpractice - Negligent Failure to Prevent Suicide
At the age of sixteen, the victim in this medical malpractice case was diagnosed with schizophrenia. In the months leading to his death at the age of nineteen he became self-mutilating and had occasional suicidal ideation. Following an incident where he punctured his scalp with a nail, an infection set in necessitating surgery. After one month of hospitalization, he was transferred to the psychiatric unit of defendant’s extended care facility for IV antibiotic therapy. The man's room was on the fourth floor of the building, which had unsecured windows.
Within 24 hours of the his admission to the facility, he was observed pacing in front of the window and repeatedly opening the window. He was then put on a one-on-one suicide watch. However, the nursing attendant positioned himself in such a way that the patient still had full access to the window.
Due to the attendant's inattention, the man was able to open the window and jump to his death.
Damages were assessed by a Worcester Superior Court judge, who found for the plaintiff in the amount of $600,000. The case was settled for $675,000, which represented the $600,000 damage assessment plus $75,000 in interest.