When a person is admitted to a mental health facility, the patient and their family members naturally assume that the patient will get proper medical care. In a mental health facility, part of that care is monitoring the patient to ensure that the patient doesn’t cause harm to himself or others around him. One recent settlement shows that proper monitoring of mental health patients isn’t something that is always done.
A man who was schizophrenic was taken to Mendota Mental Health Institute in April of 2009. In March of 2010, he was placed in seclusion after reportedly trying to fight with staff members. The man was anxious and knocked on his door during the next few weeks. He was supposed to be checked on by staff members every 15 minutes during his time in seclusion.
The man was found dead in his room on April 8. He had committed suicide by wrapping a sock tightly around his neck. The staff members noted that he looked like he was sleeping. They didn’t notice his death for 18 hours.
The State of Wisconsin has entered into a settlement with the family of the man. Under the terms of the settlement, the state didn’t admit any liability. Instead, they say they settled to avoid litigation. The settlement also calls for the state to pay the deceased man’s estate $562,500. The wrongful death lawsuit against the state was dismissed once the settlement was reached.
This man should have been carefully monitored during his residency at the mental health care facility. Mental health facilities are responsible for the care and safety of their patients at all times. When negligence occurs, they are liable and should be held accountable.
Source: Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, “Wisconsin to pay $562,500 after suicide at Mendota” No author given, Apr. 11, 2014