Negligent Medical Care and Mental Health Support Resulting in Suicide
A medical journal article published as far back as 2015 found that malpractice litigation in the psychiatry field was growing. The most common psychiatric malpractice claim? Failure to reasonably protect patients from killing themselves. This problem has been growing in the general population but has been especially troublesome in the military. A detailed study by the RAND Corporation, along with reports from other sources, has found that for both active duty service members and veterans, the rates of suicide are more or less double than the rate of suicides in the general population.
Doctors have the same duties when it comes to diagnosing and treating mental health issues as they do regarding physical health. The failure to properly assess, diagnose and treat a mental health condition, or to put in a safety plan for a patient who could reasonably be deemed a suicide risk, are examples of negligence that could rise to the level of medical malpractice. At Bertling Law Group, our attorneys have decades of experience representing plaintiffs and defendants in medical malpractice cases. Our firm today focuses on representing patients harmed by medical malpractice in a variety of settings, including representing civilians throughout California as well as active duty military members and veterans nationwide.
If the medical system failed your loved one who committed suicide or attempted suicide due to negligent medical care or mental health support, please call Bertling Law Group for a discussion of what happened and what options you may have. There is no charge for this call, and we won’t charge any legal fees unless we take your case and are successful recovering compensation for the harm done.
The VA Is Supposed to Be the Place to Go for Veterans Struggling With Mental Health Issues
As noted above, the rates of suicide for veterans are double that of the general population. Of the veterans and active duty military members who die by suicide, the incidence has more than double for those with a mental health or a substance use disorder. The Veterans Health Administration is supposed to be a place that provides high-quality mental health treatment for veterans, and the VA is expected to understand the unique issues and needs veterans face. Veterans and active duty military are at risk of developing conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and opioid dependence following pain management. All of these conditions put patients at higher risk of suicide.
Some doctors may be better than others at recognizing the need to treat mental health issues, but all doctors are expected to practice with the same degree of competence and care as other doctors in the same field in the same setting. The applicable standard could be one established in the local community or it could be a national standard, depending on whether the malpractice claim involves a civilian or military medical practice. In either case, the failure to diagnose or the failure to treat a mental health condition or to act reasonably to prevent suicide is likely an inexcusable failing that amounts to medical malpractice.
Compensation Is Necessary and Available to Families Who Lose a Loved One Due to Medical Malpractice
When doctors and hospitals fail a patient who dies by suicide, they fail that person’s family as well. A malpractice lawsuit for money damages is one of the chief ways – and often the only way – to hold the doctor or institution accountable and force them to change their practices so these tragedies don’t continue to happen to other individuals and families. A lawsuit is also critical to ensuring the bereaved family has the financial resources they need to deal with the loss of a breadwinner, household manager or beloved spouse or parent. A malpractice lawsuit can help recover compensation for losses such as:
- Medical expenses related to a hospital or facility stay prior to the suicide or after the attempt and before death
- The loss of financial support
- Physical pain and suffering endured by the deceased
- Emotional pain and losses suffered by the surviving family members
Damages could also be recovered after a failed suicide attempt that left the victim with serious injuries, including long-term or permanent disabilities. Many suicides by military members involve a firearm, which can cause serious harm if the attempt is unsuccessful. Overdose is another common form of suicide, especially among patients who were suffering from opioid dependence or other substance use disorders. An aborted suicide attempt in these cases can leave the victim with brain damage or other serious and costly medical conditions. Compensation for these kinds of harm can and should be paid by doctors and hospitals who failed to properly diagnose or treat the patient’s condition.
Call Bertling Law Group for Help With Your Medical Malpractice Claim
Bertling Law Group has filed lawsuits against the VA and DOD in suicide malpractice cases. In some instances, a patient was admitted to a facility for emergent mental health needs but was not closely supervised as required and committed suicide while in the facility. In other situations, a person might be released after a brief hold without receiving the proper treatment or follow-up care, leading to suicide outside the facility.
Any suicide is a tragic and painful loss for the family members left behind. Active Duty Military and Veterans who die by suicide are often a mother or father leaving behind young children who don’t know where their parent has gone, and leaving a grieving spouse who must also find a way to understand what happened while grappling with the task of moving forward and raising a family as a single parent. Bertling Law Group is here to help you find answers about what went wrong and get you the financial help you need.
For help with a medical malpractice claim against the VA, the Department of Defense, or any California medical provider, call Bertling Law Group at 844-295-7558. Your call is free, and there is no fee if no recovery for you.