Failing to Prevent Suicide
Healthcare professionals have a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent suicide
The good news is suicide is preventable where a competent health provider does their job. When a health professional knows, or should know, that a patient is at risk for dying by suicide, he or she has a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent the suicide. The reasonableness of the steps taken depends upon the extent of the patient's risk.
Unfortunately, doctors, nurses and hospital staff can and do make bad decisions about patient safety. Their errors can have the opposite result of effective treatment by exacerbating suicidal feelings. If you lost a loved one due to the negligence of a medical provider who failed to prevent suicide, contact a lawyer who puts families first. Attorney Simpson has dedicated his career to fighting for society's most vulnerable citizens. For a free consultation, contact the Law Offices of Skip Simpson, serving clients in Texas and throughout the nation.
When more intervention is needed to prevent suicide
Where the patient is at low risk for suicide, less intervention is required. The mental health professional may decide to increase the frequency and number of visits with the patient. He or she may decide to change the treatment plan, prescribing more effective medications or altering the form of psychotherapy provided.
As the risk for suicide increases, the mental health professional has a duty to take more active steps. He or she may be required to contact the patient's family or friends, informing them of the risk and educating them on the warning signs for suicide. He or she is required to inquire about the patient's access to lethal means, particularly firearms, and to ensure that the patient's access to these is eliminated. If the risk for suicide is high, the mental health professional has a duty to hospitalize the patient, seeking involuntary commitment of the patient if that is necessary.
Responsibility of hospital staff
When the patient is already in the hospital as a result of suicidal thinking, there should be no way for a suicide to occur. Unfortunately, suicides do occur, with alarming frequency, and usually by hanging. Hospital staff have a duty to ensure that the patient's access to lethal means is restricted, to monitor the patient constantly by line of sight or one-to-one to ensure that the patient is receiving proper treatment, and to keep all staff members informed of the patient's condition and risk for suicide.
Mental health professionals have a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent suicide. There is, in everyone who dies by suicide, a part of them which wants to live. The mental health professional is charged with the responsibility of getting them through this moment of suicidal crisis, so that they can in fact live.
Contact the Law Offices of Skip Simpson
Break the cycle. Help prevent future suicides. Contact a compassionate attorney who cares about people and demands justice. Contact the Law Offices of Skip Simpson.
We have an office in the Dallas, Texas area and serve clients nationally. Call 214-618-8222 or complete our online contact form for a free consultation.
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