Columbia Psychiatrist Sued For Negligence In Suicide

April 15, 1992|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff writer

A Columbia psychiatrist was negligent in the treatment of a patient who later committed suicide, according to a suit filed in Howard County Circuit Court by the psychiatrist who last treated the patient.

Dr. Lawrence W. Adler, formerly a psychiatrist at Spring Grove Hospital Center in Catonsville, charges that Columbia psychiatrist Dr. Lawrence Robert Hyman failed to provide him with the psychiatric recordsof James Pescetto. Pescetto committed suicide on April 20, 1988. Thesuit did not identify where Pescetto lived.

Adler, who treated Pescetto after he was admitted to Spring Groveon April 14, 1988, is suing Hyman for $450,000, claiming that "the death of James Pescetto was caused in whole or in part" by his negligence.

In June 1989, Pescetto's family charged Adler and Spring Grove with negligence and wrongful death in an action before the MarylandHealth Claims Arbitration Office. The Pescetto family claimed that Adler failed to consult with Hyman about Pescetto's psychiatric history.

The charges were dismissed, and Adler paid the family $900,000 in September 1990 as part of a settlement agreement, the lawsuit states.

Adler and his insurance company, A.I. Management and Professional Liability Claim Adjusters, maintain in the lawsuit that Hyman should pay half the settlement agreement.

Hyman was out of town and could not be reached for comment.

According to the lawsuit, Hyman treated Pescetto from Feb. 21, 1988, to April 14, 1988. Pescetto was involuntarily admitted to Spring Grove on April 14, 1988, because he was determined to be a danger to himself.

Pescetto was released on April 19 and committed suicide the next day.

"Throughout James Pescetto's five-day admission in Spring Grove, Hyman completely abandoned his patient, in breach of his duty to James Pescetto as a mental health care professional," the lawsuit states.

Hyman failed to provide Adler or anyone else at Spring Grove involved in Pescetto's treatment with records of the patient's psychiatric treatment history, which included information concerning previous suicide threats, the lawsuit states.

Adler maintains that Hyman's actions constitute a violation of accepted standards of psychiatric care.

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