Is a Hospital Responsible If Suicidal Patients It Allows to Leave Commit Suicide?

The Pennsylvania Superior Court has revived a lawsuit concerning a hospital’s liability if it allows suicidal patients to leave and they take their life.

Why Did the Pennsylvania Superior Court Revive This Case?

The case, Martin v. Holy Spirit Hospital, involved a woman with a history of mental health problems who was brought to Holy Spirit Hospital in 2012. Although she technically voluntarily admitted herself to the hospital, she had been brought to the hospital after police had to pull her from a second-story window. While at the hospital, she was put in an exam room and interacted with multiple hospital staff members, but was never seen by a doctor or a member of the facility’s crisis intervention team.

After being in the exam room for nearly an hour and a half, the woman reportedly left the exam room wearing just slippers and a hospital gown. She passed the ER billing and discharge station, two nurses stations and the ER lobby on her way out of the hospital. Once outside, she walked onto US Route 15 and was hit by a vehicle. She suffered fatal injuries from the collision and died at the scene.

The Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas originally threw out the case because the hospital has limited immunity under the Mental Health Procedures Act. However, the three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court sided with the plaintiff that facts in the case could convince a jury that the hospital was grossly negligent. If the hospital was grossly negligent, that could overcome the protection that their limited immunity provides. As a result, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the lower court’s decision and reinstated the lawsuit.

How Do I Know If I Should File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Each situation is different, making it difficult for victims and their families to decide whether they should pursue a medical malpractice claim. In the video below, personal injury attorney Nancy Winkler discusses how to decide if you should file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

As founder and senior shareholder of the firm, personal injury lawyer Stewart J. Eisenberg has represented victims of catastrophic injury and wrongful death for more than 35 years. He is one of the region’s most accomplished trial lawyers, with a long list of awards and recognition.