Patient Harmed in Psychotic ER Escape: $1M Settlement
2015 Medical Malpractice Trial Report
Lawsuit claims ER staff was negligent when failing to properly monitor the psychiatric patient who escaped and sustained injuries and multiple surgeries
The plaintiff is a 25-year-old man who suffered a gun-shot wound, a ruptured femoral artery, massive hemorrhaging, and hypovolemic shock requiring numerous surgeries, after he was allowed to escape the emergency room during an acute psychiatric emergency.
On 12/24/09, the plaintiff was brought to the emergency room via ambulance after sustaining self-inflicted knife wounds to his arms and an intentional Morphine overdose. The plaintiff was initially placed in four point physical restraints and was administered chemical restraints (Ativan, Haldol, and Cogentin). After several hours, the physical restraints were removed and a 1:1 sitter was assigned to watch the plaintiff at all times.
The plaintiff remained in the emergency room overnight while awaiting an outside psychiatric consult. On the morning of 12/25/09, while a 1:1 sitter was supposed to watch the plaintiff to prevent him from harming himself, the plaintiff managed to escape from his hospital room and flee the emergency room. When the defendant sitter realized her patient had escaped, hospital security and the local police were notified.
When the police found the plaintiff, the plaintiff charged at police with a hunting knife. In the altercation, the plaintiff sustained a gunshot wound to the lower back. The plaintiff was then rushed back to the hospital for life-saving medical care.
He was stabilized and transferred to a tertiary care facility where he underwent emergent surgery for hypovolemic shock and severe hemorrhage. The initial surgery required repair of the right iliac vein with vein patch angioplasty; repair of the right common iliac vein/lateral inferior vena cava laceration; ligation of the right internal iliac artery; iliac thrombectomy; femoral thrombectomy; and right four-compartment fasciotomies of the lower extremity. Subsequently, the plaintiff required multiple, extensive vascular repair surgeries, brachial femoral bypass grafting from his right upper extremity to his lower extremity, a fasciotomy, and IVC filter placement. Ultimately, he was left with a foot drop and the need for life-long Coumadin.
The plaintiff was prepared to present evidence that the defendant emergency room staff was negligent when they failed to properly monitor the plaintiff, and that as a direct result he was permitted to escape, leading to the altercation with police, the gunshot wound, and the attendant complications.
The defense was prepared to present evidence that the defendants had rendered acceptable care to the plaintiff and that the injuries he sustained were an unfortunate and unpreventable consequences of his acute psychiatric illness.
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