Lake v. WVUH, et al.

Civil Action No. 01-C-17
Monongalia County, West Virginia

Many hospitals are under managed care pressure to pack more patients into existing space. In this instance a hospital converted an old storage room into a psychiatric hospital room. In 1999, a depressed psychotic patient who on admission was panicked to be alone with men, was put into that room with a roommate within 72 hours of a psychiatric admission. The hospital had neglected to remove a hook strong enough to support a man's body. While his roommate was away the patient found the hook and hung himself. He died by asphyxiation.

The plaintiffs proceeded on both professional negligence and premises liability theories. On January 24th, 2003 the jury awarded the patient's family 2.8 million dollars for mental anguish, etc. Harold J. Bursztajn M.D. a forensic psychiatrist from Cambridge, MA testified on behalf of the plaintiffs.