What are my rights if my threats of suicide were not addressed in an appropriate manner?

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What are my rights if my threats of suicide were not addressed in an appropriate manner?

I am a 31 year old male that has been in and out of a few mental health wards. One of the most recent times, I walked to the nurses station and emotionally explained that I felt I would harm myself without intervention. She had me take a seat and I waited for about an hour as the symptoms grew worst. I had just reached in my bag and pulled out a blade as the nurse casually escorted me to a room in which I waited a lengthy time again. Without thought, I slit both wrists and pretty deep on my right. I am now faced with hideous scars and reminders. Could this be a case of medical malpractice?

Asked on July 4, 2015 under Malpractice Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It is most likely NOT malpractice, unless you explained that you meant you might harm yourself immediately; without some time context or sense of urgency, it is not unreasonable to have a patient or prospective patient wait to be seen. Most psychological issues are not imminent threats requiring immediate action, the way, say, a stroke in progess is.

Furthermore, if you were mentally compentent, then you chose to harm yourself; no one else, not even medical professionals, is liable for your the deliberate choices or actions of competent adults. And if you are not mentally competent, then you could not bring a lawsuit on your own behalf--though perhaps your legal guardian (if you have one) could, though, as stated, this is most likely not a case of malpractice. You are in a bit of a bind: to have any chance of showing that you did not harm yourself intentionally, you'd have to show that you are not competent to control your actions or make decisions, which affects your ability to bring or direct a lawsuit.


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