Family wins claim in patient death Carroll County General, psychiatrist held liable

November 13, 1995|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

A health claims arbitration panel has awarded a Westminster family $190,454 after finding Carroll County General Hospital and one of its psychiatrists liable in the death of a psychiatric patient.

The patient, Thomas H. Jenkins, 41, killed himself with a shotgun in the garage of his Westminster home June 30, 1992, the same day he was discharged from Carroll County General, according to a complaint filed by the Jenkins family with the state Health Claims Arbitration Office.

In a decision issued Nov. 3, the arbitration panel found Carroll County General and hospital psychiatrist Dr. James S. Choi liable for damages in the case.

The complaint against the hospital was filed in March 1994 by Mr. Jenkins' wife, Eva, and his three children.

Mr. Jenkins was admitted to the hospital June 25, 1992, for an emergency psychiatric evaluation, at the request of his wife.

He had become violent and suicidal after the breakup of his marriage, the complaint states.

The Jenkins family claimed that employees of Carroll County General Hospital and Dr. Choi failed to provide appropriate treatment for Mr. Jenkins.

The complaint alleges that Dr. Choi didn't familiarize himself with the circumstances surrounding Mr. Jenkins' admission to the hospital, failed to develop an appropriate treatment plan and didn't conduct an adequate suicide risk assessment of Mr. Jenkins.

Dr. Choi discharged Mr. Jenkins hours before he was scheduled to attend a hearing on a domestic violence matter concerning his wife, despite Mr. Jenkins' "expressed intentions to kill himself rather than have to attend the hearing," the complaint states.

Robert C. Morgan, the attorney for Carroll County General Hospital, said the hospital intends to appeal the panel's decision to Carroll County Circuit Court.

"We regret that the health care panel found the hospital liable," Mr. Morgan said. "We presented evidence that the patient care we provided was appropriate."

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