NEW ORLEANS and METAIRIE, Louisiana. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there are an estimated 117 suicides each day in the U.S. Suicide costs the country as much as $44 billion annually. For every death by suicide, 12 people visit the hospital for instances of self-harm. The reality is that many people who successfully kill themselves may attempt to kill themselves many times before they succeed. While doctors are trained to detect warning signs, not all mental health practitioners identify at-risk patients in time. For the devastated families who lose a loved one to suicide, there are often more questions than answers.
More and more families are seeking answers to understand the ways in which the mental health medical establishment failed to identify risk factors or take measures to provide their loved ones with proper treatment. The Bowling Law Firm assists families of victims in New Orleans and Metairie who may want to find answers.
According to researchers at the Ohio State University and Rutgers University, the law generally views suicide as preventable in most circumstances. In fact, suicide accounts for the largest number of settlements in medical malpractice lawsuits against mental health practitioners. Families may not always know whether mental health practitioners failed to take proper action to prevent patient suicide. Some families don’t start to get answers until they hire a medical malpractice wrongful death lawyer to evaluate and investigate their case. Wrongful death cases in New Orleans and Metairie can be complex, particularly if they involve medical malpractice.
When would a mental health practitioner be liable in a medical malpractice case when a patient commits suicide? Practitioners should always perform a risk assessment on patients. The risk assessment can use assessment instruments, but can also involve conversations with the patient. If the patient has a lethal suicide plan in place, then the patient may be at high risk of suicide. Proper diagnosis is also important to protecting patients. Many patients who were misdiagnosed are released, only to hurt themselves later. In other instances, doctors misdiagnose and then fail to offer proper prescriptions to treat the patient’s condition.
Another way doctors make errors is when they fail to keep accurate long-term records of a patient’s medical history. A patient who has attempted suicide before may be more likely to try again if suicidal ideation is present. Doctors who are not equipped with your loved ones medical records may make errors in treatment.
Concerned families and loved ones should also be aware of suicide risk factors. According to Upworthy, depression and isolation, prior attempts of suicide or substance abuse, financial problems, access to deadly means, family history of suicide, and having friends who have committed suicide can all be risk factors. Just asking your loved one whether they are thinking about hurting themselves can also be a way to get the conversation started.
Of course, if you are worried about a loved one, don’t hesitate to get help. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline offers 24-7 assistance. They can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK.