Psychiatric Malpractice Lawsuit Alleges Patient’s Death was Preventable
Following the death of a psychiatric patient, who was killed by a staff member at a Houston-area hospital during a physical altercation, the family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit and inspectors for the U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services have indicated that the death could have been prevented if the facility had followed its own policies.
The psychiatric malpractice lawsuit was filed by the family of Mario Vidaurre against West Oaks Hospital, alleging that his death was caused by the hospital’s failure to properly training their employees and by providing only one staffer, as opposed to two or more, to supervise Vidaurre during a smoke break.
Fred Williams, a mental health technician at Psychiatric Solution Inc.’s West Oak Hospital, was alone with Vidaurre, a former boxer suffering from schizophrenia, when he was attacked while helping him light his cigarette. During the ensuing altercation, Williams was able to restrain Vidaurre until he grew still.
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Vidaurre died during the incident, and the family and health officials indicate that the blame for the death falls on the facility, not the employee.
During sworn testimony, Williams indicated that he was never trained to independently deal with combative patients and all of the training provided by the employer involved two or more staffers.
The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the hospital’s failure to assign more than one staffer to monitor Vidaurre during the smoking break allowed the tragedy to occur. The facility was aware of prior violent outbursts by Vidaurre against staff members, including a prior incident a few days before his death where he had chocked another tech.
Officials for the U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, who also investigated this occurrence, released a report which also placed fault on West Oaks Hospital. The inspectors report suggested that if two staffers had been assigned, as the hospital’s own policy calls for, the death could have been prevented.
Rev.PerryJanuary 12, 2010 at 10:56 am
I was an employee at West Oaks Hospital in 2005.This facility did put untrained workers out on the floor and ignored dangerous conditions to pateints and workers.When I did complain about this I do beleive the hospital retaliated against me.They lied during the hiring process.This was the worst facility I ever had the misfortune of being associated with.
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