Mentally Ill Inmate Gouges Out Own Eyes, Sues County for Negligence

7 Indest-2008-4By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 7, 2017, a mentally ill inmate in the Boulder, Colorado, jail sued a sheriff in federal court, claiming that the jail staff failed to stop the man from using his fingers to gouge out his own eyes after several prior attempts to do so. The inmate sued the sheriff and 21 other jail employees in U.S. District Court in Denver. He claimed that he blinded himself because they failed to heed warning signs to treat his mental illness, according to the civil lawsuit filed by his Denver civil rights attorneys.

Inmate Negligence.

The inmate, who is now blind and suffers from deep, severe schizophrenic psychosis, is seeking monetary awards for negligence, including compensatory damages for physical and psychological injuries including pain and emotional distress and humiliation. He suffers from auditory and visual hallucinations, delusions and paranoia, according to the lawsuit.

On December 17, 2016, the inmate curled up in a ball in his cell with fingernails that hadn’t been cut for six weeks and plucked both of his eyes “completely out of his head,” the lawsuit says. The lawsuit also says jailers failed to respond to a series of precursor events in which the inmate said he would gouge his eyes out. In early 2016, he banged his head into his toilet, breaking seven teeth, the lawsuit says. Additionally, there were several prior attempts by the inmate to committed suicide.

Shane McGurk, the jail’s mental health program director, sought an emergency court order to get him psychiatric treatment. The judge ordered deputies to immediately take him to get psychiatric treatment. However, according to the lawsuit, the orders were ignored and the “Defendants’ willful and deliberate indifference to the inmate’s serious medical needs directly led to his self-mutilation, head and vertebrae injury, broken teeth and ultimately, to his permanent blindness.”

The jail failed to properly train officers in how to care for a mentally ill inmate, the lawsuit said.

This is not the first time an inmate or their families have sued for improper care during incarceration. Click here to read one of my prior blogs on a similar case.

It is an unfortunate reality that our society today tends to ignore citizens with true and severe mental health illnesses, choosing to treat them as criminals, instead. Instead of allocating funds for treatment, acting in a preventative manner, it prefers to spend the money for prisons and paying for incarceration. This is a complete shame. This poor, mentally ill individual suffers the consequences. Unfortunately, the officials who run our jails and prisons also suffer by being the treater of last resort, which is grossly unfair to them, as well. Our jail and prison officials should have a “safety relief valve” available to them where they can divert individuals who have been incarcerated because of their mental illnesses and obtain appropriate treatment for them.

Providing Representation For All Health Care Professionals.

Our firm has represented a number of nurses, physicians and other health care professionals who provide care in jails and prisons, as well as in other government facilities and institutions. We routinely represent physicians, nurses and advance practice nurses who work for the VA, the Department of Health, the county, the military, the Indian Health Service and other government agencies. Although government employees may have personal immunity from civil suits, they are not protected against termination and other employment actions, complaints against their professional license, National Practitioner Data Bank reports, and other types of administrative actions; our firm represents them in all of these. The government is not going to represent you in these. Call us at the first sign of a legal problem.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Mitchell, Kirk. “Mentally Ill inmate sues for negligence.” The Denver Post. (December 8, 2017). Web.

Mitchell, Kirk. “Psychotic Boulder jail inmate gouges out own eyes, sues county for negligence.” The Denver Post. (December 7, 2017). Web.

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. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for government physicians, legal representation for government nurses, legal representation for mental health professionals, mental health defense attorney, legal representation of mental health counselors, mental health counselor defense attorney, legal defense of professional licensure cases, legal representation for Board of Nursing cases, legal representation for Board of Medicine cases, Board of Nursing investigation defense attorney, legal representation for peer review, legal representation for administrative actions, legal representation for health care professionals, legal representation for psychiatrists, psychiatrists defense attorney, defense counsel for mental health professionals, health care lawyer, The Health Law Firm reviews

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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Major Health Care Reform Bill On FDA Approvals, Mental Health Policy Clears House

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 30, 2016, the House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act. The new bill overwhelmingly passed wide-ranging legislation meant to overhaul the drug approval process, boost biomedical research, and many other significant health-related policies.

The Bill.

The bill would change research prioritization and medication review rules at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Additionally, it would push medication development rules for a variety of items including new antibiotics to medical devices. The mental health reforms, originally developed in Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Reform Act of 2016, would create a greater emphasis on evidence-based mental health treatments. It aims to increase cooperation between federal agencies on mental health policy.

The bill passed with a 392-26 vote, largely supported by Republican National Committee (GOP) leaders like whip Steve Scalise, R-La. Scalise called the legislation an advance that would save millions of lives and move medical innovation back to U.S. shores.

Providing Additional Funding.

In addition to the push for medical development, the bill also encompasses a host of other big initiatives. This includes more than $5 billion in funding for the NIH and money to help the FDA; $1 billion for tackling the opioid epidemic; and provisions that are meant to help pair Americans who suffer from serious mental illnesses with available psychiatric beds.

The bill is expected to pass the Senate by the beginning of December 2016.

To learn more about the importance of raising awareness about mental health issues, click here to read one of my prior blogs on this topic.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in the Representation of Psychiatrists, Mental Health Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers, and Marital and Family Therapists.

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.

Often the early advice and representation of an experienced health law attorney can help avoid discipline which will be on your record for a lifetime.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Mukherjee, Sy. “House Just Passed the Biggest Health Reform Bill Since Obamacare.” Fortune. (November 30, 2016). Web.

Macagnone, Michael. “Bill On FDA Approvals, Mental Health Policy Clears House.” Law360. (November 30, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.

Florida Court Denies Motion to End Patient Wrongful Death Suit Despite Settlement

7 Indest-2008-4By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 15, 2016, The Florida Supreme Court refused to dismiss a lawsuit over the death of an escaped psychiatric hospital patient for the second time. The suit questions the thin line between medical and ordinary negligence, even though the parties settled their dispute several months ago.

The justices offered no explanation when they denied a motion from defendant-appellee Shands Teaching Hospital and Clinics Inc. (Shands) asking them to reconsider that ruling. Additionally, the court also maintained the same 4-3 split across both orders.

The Background.

The ongoing case stems from the January 23, 2013, death of Ashley Lawson. She escaped from Shands Psychiatric Hospital in Gainesville, and was struck and killed by a tractor trailer on Interstate 75.

According to the facts from the case that was filed, Lawson was admitted to the hospital on November 1, 2012, with a history of psychiatric illness, drug abuse, impulsive behavior and multiple suicide attempts. She was later transferred to the locked inpatient unit for her own safety, according to her estate’s initial jurisdictional brief.

As a result of a Shands employee allegedly leaving her key and badge unattended, Lawson was able to escape. Her estate, bringing the suit on her behalf, argued that the case was one of ordinary negligence and not a medical malpractice case. A medical malpractice case carries various strict presuit requirements under the Florida Medical Malpractice Act, including a presuit notice and the affidavit of a physician expert, which the estate did not provide.

Denied Motion to Dismiss.

The suit made its way to the state’s highest court as the estate sought reversal of a decision by the First District Court of Appeal to quash a lower court’s order that had denied Shands’ motion to dismiss. According to the estate’s brief, the Court of Appeal reviewed the case on its own, reaching its 8 to 6 decision, after a three-judge panel could not reach a definitive result.

Ashley Lawson’s estate argued the First District Court of Appeal’s decision stood in conflict with the Fifth District Court of Appeal’s decision on what constitutes ordinary negligence versus medical malpractice. This conflict would give the Florida Supreme Court the authority to decide what the law actually states.

In the hospital’s defense, Shands argued that the case is not a high-profile matter of great public interest, and has no effect on the “due process rights of life or liberty for a sizable group of Floridians.”

Negligence is one of the most common claims used against doctors. It is important to familiarize yourself with the repercussions and ways to avoid it from happening to you in the first place. Click here to read one of my prior blogs to learn more.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in the Representation of Psychiatrists, Mental Health Counselors, Psychologists, Social Workers, and Marital and Family Therapists.

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.

Often the early advice and representation of an experienced health law attorney can help avoid discipline which will be on your record for a lifetime.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Hale, Nathan. “Fla. High Court Says Deal Doesn’t Stop Patient Death Case.” Law360. (November 28, 2016). Web.

Frellick, Marcia. “Florida Court Rules Physician May Be Liable in Suicide.” Medscape. (August 25, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legal representation for medical negligence, legal representation for medical malpractice, identifying the difference between medical and ordinary negligence, legal representation for mental health professionals, mental health defense lawyer, legal counsel for mental health counselors and professionals, mental health defense lawyer, legal representation for psychiatrists, psychologist defense attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm, attorney for mental health counselors, psychologist defense attorney, psychiatry negligence defense counsel

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2016 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.