Family filed wrongful death suit after suicidal patient was placed in unsafe room with lowest level of observation

The husband of a deceased former patient filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Riveredge Hospital in June 2013.

The Plaintiff alleged that his wife was able to commit suicide inside her room at the facility by hanging herself from a ceiling vent with a bed sheet. The patient was allegedly placed on “routine” 15-minute observation when admitted (the lowest observation level possible), despite showing several risk factors for suicide. The patient was allegedly experiencing suicidal ideation and had attempted suicide while being transported to Riveredge from an acute care hospital where she had been treated for a prior suicide attempt.

Despite these risk factors, the patient was allegedly placed in a room with a slatted air vent in the ceiling, and was able to hang herself from it, causing her death. The State had allegedly identified the air vents as dangerous five years before the Plaintiff’s wife was admitted, and had mandated they be modified. However, the Plaintiff alleged that:

Despite being ordered … to modify all of the slatted vents and/or vent covers some time no later than the year 2008, as of June 7, 2013, the defendant had still not modified all of said vents and/or vent covers… [T]he total time necessary for the defendant to modify all of said vents and/or vent covers at Riveredge Hospital would have been less than 48 hours.

The case is ongoing as of December 2014.

Following this patient’s alleged suicide, Riveredge Hospital was subject to an inspection by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which found that conditions posed immediate jeopardy for 40 patients at the hospital.