Case Study: Suicide After ‘Gross Failures’ at a Mental Health Crisis Facility

Compensation: £25,000

Donna

JMW secured £25,000 compensation for a grieving family after a member of their family committed suicide after 'gross failures' at a mental health facility.

Donna committed suicide while she was an in-patient at a mental health crisis facility after staff failed to monitor her as they ought to have done. Donna’s family was put in touch with the specialist solicitors at JMW and their case was taken on by Beth Reay.

Although nothing could compensate them for the failures that caused Donna’s death Beth obtained £25,000 in compensation to help them to cope with the financial aspects of their loss and for their pain and suffering.

As part of this Beth successfully argued that the trust should pay additional compensation to reflect a breach of Article 2 (Right to Life) of the Human Rights Act.

Avoidable death

Donna had a long history of mental health problems and had been under the care of the mental health trust in question for a number of years. Donna was a very vulnerable patient due to her mental illness and at times required 24-hour care and support.

When Donna’s mental health took a turn for the worse she was reviewed by a psychiatrist who found her to be agitated, depressed and talking about ending her life. The doctor concluded that there was too high a risk of Donna following through with her threats for it to be managed in the community and an inpatient bed was requested for her at a crisis mental health facility.

Negligence of the facility staff

It took several days for an inpatient bed to be found for Donna but she was eventually admitted and placed on ‘general observations’, which meant that someone would check on her every 30 minutes. Donna was not assessed by a doctor when she arrived at the unit.

During the course of the night, Donna continued to state that she wanted to take her own life to nursing staff at the unit. No doctor came to assess her and her observation regime was not increased as it should have been

The next day Donna’s condition deteriorated and she told staff that she felt agitated and could hear voices telling her to harm herself. Still, staff at the unit only checked on her every 30 minutes.

However, the failure of staff to check on Donna more frequently, which they ought to have done given the circumstances, was to have tragic consequences. Later that day she was found unconscious in part of the ward with a ligature around her neck. An ambulance was called and Donna was taken to hospital but doctors were unable to revive her.

The claim

Beth Reay secured Donna’s family £25,000 in compensation to help them to cover the cost of funeral expenses and for their pain and suffering.  

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