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West Virginia claim alleges suicide victim’s exam was deficient

Medical standards obligate doctors and other health care professionals to provide Charleston patients with the highest quality care. Medical professionals cannot guarantee positive outcomes. However, health care providers are expected to use their knowledge and skills to the fullest to diagnose and treat patients' health conditions.

The father of a West Virginia man, who committed suicide one day after a mental health evaluation, blames a Prestera Center employee for his son's suicide. A recently-filed lawsuit alleges Prestera Center for Mental Health and an examiner ignored clear and obvious signs the son was at risk of suicide.

The plaintiff stated he sought a mental hygiene order in August 2012 for his son, who had a history of mental health and substance abuse problems. The son previously attempted to commit suicide. A police officer took the patient into custody and transferred him to Prestera Center for an exam.

According to the lawsuit, the police officer informed the mental health evaluator about the father's concerns the son would harm himself or others. The patient's father was present during the evaluation, where he allegedly reemphasized those worries. The complaint stated the examiner made no effort to make a proper diagnosis.

The lawsuit claimed the evaluator failed to request or review the patient's medical and mental health history, which contained diagnoses, suicide attempt and hospitalization records. The examiner apparently conducted the exam without tests, an interview, notes or any follow-up treatment before deciding to release the patient.

The father accused the evaluator and the examiner's employer with breach of duty and negligence. Compensatory damages are sought for funeral costs, income losses and the father's pain and suffering in the wake of his son's suicide.

Health care providers, who fail in their work to treat patients, through a preventable misdiagnosis or other error, can be held accountable by injured patients or family members, when medical malpractice leads to death.

Source: The West Virginia Record, "Man blames Prestera for son’s death" Kyla Asbury, Jan. 13, 2015

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