Oregon Hospital Death Raises Multiple Legal Issues

The death last year of a patient at the Oregon State Hospital has led to reprimands for five hospital employees. According to the Salem Statesman-Journal a state official and “hospital leaders” decided that reprimands were a sufficient punishment for the five employees. The legal system, however, has yet to have its final say on this serious situation. Oregon wrongful death and Oregon medical neglect lawsuits remain a possibility.

The reprimands were occasioned by the death last fall of 42 year old Moises Perez. Perez died of coronary artery disease, according to The Oregonian, but “lay in his room across from the nurses station for several hours before his body was discovered.”
The paper reports that three nurses and two aides have now had letters of reprimand placed in their personnel files following an investigation by the OSH’s human resources department. The reprimands are not accompanied by any loss of pay or suspension from work. The Oregonian reports that one of the nurses failed to make monthly nursing summaries on Perez’s chart from June until the patient’s death in October. One of the aides was disciplined for failing to alert nurses when Perez did not “show up to take his 3:30pm medications” on the day of his death. A separate investigation of a doctor, being carried out by a medical board, is still under way.

Patients in a mental hospital are particularly dependent on hospital staff for their care and well-being. The issuance of the reprimands causes one to ask what would have to happen at OSH – and how widely the system might have to fail – for more serious disciplinary action to be meted out to hospital staff?

Beyond the obvious question of whether Perez’s demise constitutes an Oregon wrongful death, it is also essential to consider whether this case also fits the definition of Oregon medical neglect. Such questions involve complex interpretations of law, and are best addressed with the help of a Portland medical neglect lawyer with extensive experience in the laws relating to Oregon wrongful death. Professional sanctions are important but cannot, by themselves, make up for the loss of a loved one through Oregon hospital negligence. An Oregon wrongful death attorney can be a bereaved family’s most important ally when they approach the courts seeking justice in the wake of a tragedy such as this.

The Oregonian: Five Oregon State Hospital employees reprimanded for care to patient Moises Perez, who died last fall

Salem Statesman-Journal: Oregon State Hospital reprimands five in patient’s death