What is a hospital’s liability regarding the release of a mentally depressed patient who later commits suicide?

UPDATED: Nov 4, 2014

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What is a hospital’s liability regarding the release of a mentally depressed patient who later commits suicide?

My father went to the ER because he was severely depressed, couldn’t sleep and having severe anxiety. They sent him to a mental health hospital down state. The hospital he was in he was not able to discharge himself. He called me saying they were going to discharge him because his insurance would not cover his stay there and he could not afford it. They said there may be another hospital he could go to. He didn’t Feel comfortable switching hospitals. The physician discharged him and have him some anxiety medicine. He shot himself 2 weeks later. I feel the hospital should not have let him go just because of money. It should not have been his decision in the mental state he was in. He felt there was no help after he got home.

Asked on November 4, 2014 under Malpractice Law, Michigan


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Sorry to hear about your father.

Medical malpractice is negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable hospital would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).

The problem you will have in proving negligence is whether it was foreseeable that your father would commit suicide two weeks after being discharged by the hospital when there was another hospital where he could have gone for treatment.  If your father's suicide was unforeseeable, then the hospital is not liable.



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