A recent ruling in Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal holds that failing to properly supervise and observe a suicide risk psychiatric resident risk is not medical malpractice.
The plaintiff is represented by Senior Justice Law Firm.
Allegations in the Publicly Filed Complaint against LifeStream Behavioral Center
- PLAINTIFF was admitted to DEFENDANT FACILITY on or around 12-15-19.
- At all times material, PLAINTIFF was a suicide risk, suffering from a mental illness as defined in §394.455.
- As a result, it was ordered that PLAINTIFF be under ‘constant visual observation’ to ensure he did not commit suicide.
- PLAINTIFF’s constant visual observation was to be performed by non-medical provider staff at DEFENDANT FACILITY, including but not limited to Behavior Health technicians.
- Tragically, this was not done and PLAINTIFF was left unsupervised for a prolonged amount of time by non-medical provider staff at DEFENDANT FACILITY, including but not limited to Behavior Health technicians.
- Additionally, bathroom doors in individual rooms were to be locked at all times for safety.
- PLAINTIFF’s bathroom door was to be locked and unlocked by non-medical provider staff at DEFENDANT FACILITY, including but not limited to Behavior Health technicians and the janitorial staff.
- This was not done and PLAINTIFF was allowed unsupervised access to an unlocked bathroom.
- As a result of the above negligence by the non-medical provider staff at DEFENDANT FACILITY, PLAINTIFF was found hanging on the bathroom door at or around 18:20 on the night of 12-15-2019.
- Following PLAINTIFF’s death, the matter was investigated by the Leesburg Police Department.
- During the police investigation, it was confirmed that the Behavioral Tech responsible for supervising PLAINTIFF did not maintain appropriate supervision of PLAINTIFF.
- Further, it was confirmed that the Behavioral Tech fabricated the ‘special treatment checks’ in PLAINTIFF’s DEFENDANT FACILITY chart.
- The Behavioral Tech charted that PLAINTIFF was checked on when, in reality, he was not.
- PLAINTIFF wrongfully died on 12-15-2019 as a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s negligence, more fully described above and below.
Significance of this Appeal – What is Considered Medical Malpractice in Florida?
The Defendant facility moved to dismiss the complaint claiming that the alleged negligence was really medical malpractice because the observation and evaluation of a suicide risk resident was medical diagnosis, treatment, and care.
The 5th District Court of Appeal held as follows:
We agree with the trial court that, in its current form, the Estate’s complaint sounds in general negligence rather than medical malpractice. “[A] complaint’s allegations govern the analysis.” Mark E. Pomper, M.D., P.A. v. Ferraro, 206 So. 3d 728, 732 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016) “[A]ny `doubt’ as to whether a claim is for ordinary negligence or medical malpractice should be `generally resolved in favor of the claimant.'” Nat’l Deaf Acad., LLC, v. Townes, 242 So. 3d 303, 309 (Fla. 2018) (quoting J.B. v. Sacred Heart Hosp. of Pensacola, 635 So. 2d 945, 947 (Fla. 1994)); see also Feifer v. Galen of Fla., Inc., 685 So. 2d 882, 885 (Fla. 2d DCA 1996). The court’s denial of Lifestream’s motion to dismiss therefore cannot be deemed a departure from the essential requirements of the law.
A link to the case can be found here – LIFESTREAM BEHAVORIAL CENTER, INC., Petitioner, v. JOHN ALLERTON AS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF JOHN ZACHARY ALLERTON, Respondent.« Previous PostNext Post »