Suicide Attempt Malpractice Lawsuit in Baltimore

Tarawaly v. Bon Secours Hospital

Hospital RoomThis medical malpractice claim was filed in Baltimore City against Bon Secours in West Baltimore after a patient with known suicidal tendencies jumped from the roof at Bon Secours Hospital. It was filed in Health Claims Arbitration on February 12, 2018, and it is the 72nd medical malpractice case filed in Maryland this year.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

A man was escorted from the Baltimore Crisis Response Unit to Bon Secours Emergency Room for evaluation and treatment of schizophrenia and psychosis. After the man's admission, a social worker noted that he was screaming, experiencing tremors, hearing voices, and threatening to harm himself and commit suicide.

He remained in the Behavioral Health/Psychiatry unit for two days until a blood test revealed elevated amounts of the creatine phosphokinase enzyme, indicating muscle damage. The man was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis (a breakdown of muscle tissue) and an acute kidney injury, and he was transferred to a medical unit. Due to the man's ongoing suicidal ideations, a physician ordered a sitter to check on him every fifteen minutes.

When the man was first admitted to the medical unit, a nurse noted that a sitter was at his bedside and he was calm and cooperative with no behavioral issues. Half an hour later, the nurse was notified that the man was no longer in his room. He was found approximately ten minutes later, lying on his back on a second story roof. While unsupervised, the man had walked up to the fourth story rooftop and jumped, landing on the second story roof approximately thirty feet below. He sustained multiple serious injuries from the fall including hip, leg, ankle, and spine fractures.

Once stabilized, the man was transferred to University of Maryland Medical Center where he was hospitalized for the next six months.

Additional Comments
  • Two different nurses wrote notes describing the incident. According to the first note, the patient ran passed his sitter and jumped out the window onto the roof two stories down, and it took ten minutes to find the patient after he jumped. The nurse who wrote the second note said she received a call that a patient was missing. While looking for the patient she heard a noise from the fourth floor, where the patient was jumping off the roof. This just does look good and plays into every juror's conspiracy theory mind. One way to get a big verdict in a case like this is for the jury to hate the hospital and its employees.

  • According to the claimant's expert witness, a psychiatrist, the medical records do not indicate the sitter's level of training, experience, or knowledge about the man's mental illness. An adequately trained sitter should have been able to intervene before the man could leave his room and attempt suicide. The hospital also failed to indicate the nature of the man's illness in his transfer note, which is a deviation from the standard of care.

  • Some in Baltimore call Bon Secours "Bon Se-Killer." Saying this hospital does not have the best reputation in Baltimore would be a charitable way to put it. Some Baltimore jurors have never heard of the hospital. But West Baltimore jurors are not going to give Bon Secours the benefit of the doubt. As a result, this hospital is not racing to the courthouse to try cases to verdict and tends to favor out-of-court settlement in malpractice cases that they cannot get dismissed.

Jurisdiction
  • Baltimore City
Defendants
  • Bon Secours Hospital Baltimore, Inc.
  • Bon Secours Health System, Inc.
Hospitals Where Patient was Treated
  • Bon Secours Hospital
  • University of Maryland Medical Center
Negligence
  • Failing to properly treat, oversee, and supervise the claimant.

  • Failing to have adequate policies, protocols, and procedures in place to safeguard the wellbeing of the claimant and prevent his access to the roof.

  • Failing to provide a safe environment.

  • Failing to provide a consistent one-on-one sitter.

Specific Counts Pled
  • As a direct result of the defendant's negligence, the claimant suffered serious, permanent, and disabling injuries, extreme physical and emotional pain, and financial loss.

Plaintiff's Experts and Areas of Specialty
  • Neil Blumberg, M.D., Psychiatry and Neurology
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