The death of a patient at the Oregon State Hospital one year ago next week has led to the filing of a lawsuit, according to a recent article in the Salem Statesman-Journal. The case raises noteworthy Oregon wrongful death issues, and is worth exploring here.
According to the newspaper, the man’s family alleges that his “death was the direct result of hospital staff retaliating when he alerted police and the media to patient sexual abuse in the hospital.” The 48-year-old man died last January “after telling friends and family he feared for his life.”
The newspaper reports that in August 2013 the man had alerted hospital officials to an alleged case of sexual abuse involving a nurse and a patient. When the man felt the hospital did not react appropriately he “told the Oregon State Police, the Statesman-Journal and The Oregonian.” Shortly afterwards the man was allegedly moved to a different ward, put under round-the-clock watch by the hospital staff and given medications that “put him in a state of near-constant sedation.” The lawsuit filed by his family alleges that all of this was unnecessary and significantly contributed to the man’s death.
It will, of course, take time for the legal system to sort through all of the issues involved in this case, but as an Oregon wrongful death attorney I am glad to see it going forward. Too often medical facilities use jargon to try to evade responsibility for their own mistakes or to cover up bad behavior. Saying this does not pre-judge this particular case; rather it is an acknowledgement of the importance of giving a neutral party – specifically, our courts – the chance to weigh all of the evidence and come to a fair and just conclusion. Loved ones who remain behind after a hospital death in circumstances open to question deserve that opportunity, and giving it to them makes the medical and mental health systems fairer and safer for all of us in the long run.
Salem Statesman-Journal: Family of dead man at OSH threatens to sue