By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
An psychiatrist in Ocala, Florida was fined $5,000 by the Florida Board of Medicine after a patient brought in for evaluation in 2012, later committed suicide in jail. The psychiatrist, Marc Weinbaum (M.D.), is being disciplined by the Florida Board of Medicine for allegedly failing to evaluate and assess the patient as a suicide risk.
The inmate was originally arrested and brought to The Vines in Ocala under Florida’s Baker Act, a law that authorizes involuntary mental health evaluation and treatment for up to 72 hours if there is a credible suicide threat. To find out more about the Baker Act, click here to read one of our past blogs.
Patient in Denial.
According to the administrative complaint filed by the Department of Health (DOH), the patient was given an initial assessment, during which time he told employees that he only made the suicide threat was to avoid being arrested. The patient also denied any symptoms of depression. Dr. Weisenbaum, the facility’s medical director at the time, was then brought in to write admission orders. To view the administrative complaint, click here.
After observing the patient in an apparently relaxed state, Dr. Weinbaum admitted him to the facility for further observation. The following day, Dr. Weinbaum discharged the patient to the police without completing a psychiatric assessment and examination, according to the allegations made in the administrative complaint.
The day after he was discharged, the patient jumped off a second story railing at the jail, where he was not under a suicide watch. He died from his injuries later at the hospital. According to the complaint, Dr. Weinbaum “held the ultimate responsibility to ensure that the proper risk assessment was carried out.”
The Department of Health wrote that Dr. Weinbaum committed medical malpractice, citing Florida statutes directing that a physician must perform a complete examination, and must not discharge a patient without first conducting an examination in such cases. To find out how medical malpractice cases can affect your professional license, click here to read one of our past blogs.
Dr. Weinbaum entered into a settlement in which he agreed to accept the discipline awarded in order to avoid further litigation. The settlement agreement specified that he neither admitted nor denied the charges made against him.
Additionally, the final order issued by the Board of Medicine, required Dr. Weinbaum to reimburse investigation costs and attend five hours of CME risk management continuing education courses. To view the final order, click here.
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The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to psychiatrists, mental health counselors, psychologists, social workers and family therapists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, medical malpractice investigations, business transactions, contracts, structuring business ventures, clinical privileges actions, professional licensure matters, Board hearings, business litigation, Medicare and Medicaid audits, and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.
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Do you think that there needs to be a new protocol in place to insure patients get the proper assessment? Do you think that the DOH was fair in this punishment? Please leave any thoughtful comment below.
Gorny, Nicki. “Ocala psychiatrist fined $5,000 after jail inmate’s suicide.” The Gainesville Sun. (September 17, 2015). From: http://www.gainesville.com/article/20150917/ARTICLES/150919725?p=2&tc=pg&tc=ar
Florida Department of Health. “Final Order and Emergency Action Search.” From: https://appsmqa.doh.state.fl.us/finalordernet/Default.aspx
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com
KeyWords: Medical malpractice, medical malpractice defense attorney, Baker Act, psychiatric assessment, proper risk assessment, Department of Health, DOH, DOH investigations, disciplinary complaint, disciplinary investigation, legal representation for psychiatrist, Florida Board of Medicine, mental health professional, mental health lawyer, inadequate medical care, suicide risk for patients, medical treatment for inmates, suicide risk for inmates, defense attorney, health lawyer, health law, The Health Law Firm
“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999. Copyright © 1996-2015 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.