The family of a Marion man who committed suicide has won a medical malpractice verdict of more than $5 million. A U.S. District Court judge in the Southern District of Illinois issued his ruling recently on behalf of the man’s widow.
According to court filings, the man sought help at the Veterans Administration hospital in Marion. He asked to talk to someone, and a clinical care coordinator evaluated him and determined he was at a high risk of suicide. She arranged to have him transported to the emergency room.
The initial diagnosis of the man was “adjustment disorder with mixed emotional and behavioral features in a veteran, combined with generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” the court documents read.
The man was sent to the Jefferson Barracks VA Medical Center. After an evaluation, a psychiatrist ruled he was not exhibiting suicidal tendencies and set him home.
Two days later, the man hanged himself.
His widow then sued the federal government, claiming medical malpractice because his condition was left untreated, leading to his suicide.
In his ruling, the judge wrote that the doctor “did not investigate or even prepare the decedent’s family for his return home or investigate whether his patient’s greatest fear, and precipitating cause of his suicidal plans, was rationally based.”
It’s clear by his words that this judge thought that his was a death that likely would not have occurred with proper diagnosis and treatment. The financial award will not bring this man home, but it can give his widow enough money to get herself and their family back on their feet. Court judgments such as these can make up for the loss of income he could have provided to the household for years to come.