Hospital’s negligence implied as a patient commits suicide

  • Posted on: January 05, 2020

Managing mentally unstable patients can be a difficult task for hospitals, especially those who have suicidal tendencies but do not show any symptoms. Law says that safety of all patients is hospital’s responsibility.

Prafulla Kumar, an elderly patient suffering from type-II diabetes and dementia was admitted at the hospital. Shockingly, the night after being admitted, he jumped from the hospital’s third floor and committed suicide.

The family was aghast at this unfortunate turn of events and sued the hospital. It was alleged that the hospital did not employ enough safety measures to ensure patient’s safety. It was further alleged that patient was left unguarded with no one to supervise his movements.

The hospital authorities were probably at a loss of words. It was stated that the patient had expressed he was mentally disturbed due to his wife’s recent death. It was further stated that the patient was referred to a psychiatrist and he was to be discharged in a couple of days. What could we do in such a case, as the patient did not show any suicidal tendency, was the hospital’s concluding statement.

The Commission observed, almost replying to the concluding statement, that the hospital did not adopt a reasonable degree of care in protecting a patient so that he could not commit ‘any mischief upon himself’, and that was negligence.

The hospital was ordered to pay ten lakh rupees compensation to patient’s family!

Source: Order pronounced by West Bengal State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Chandigarh on 23rd September, 2019.

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