Paragraph 12 reads: "Soon Patel began giving another drug, Effexor, to Yates. On Aug. 10, Patel wrote in a note that Yates was still depressed, that he planned to increase the medication, and "if patient improves then will discharge tomorrow," court papers said."
Suicide prompts lawsuit
By HILARY BENTMAN
Bucks County Courier Times
A Bedminster woman is suing the hospital and doctor who treated her chronically depressed and suicidal husband and released him just four days before he took his life.
Barbara Ann Yates filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Warminster Hospital and Dr. Ketankumar Patel in Bucks County Court for wrongful death and gross negligence in the August 2006 suicide of her husband, James Yates.
In court papers filed Thursday, Yates is claiming that Patel and the hospital committed a series of acts that led to the death of her husband and that "his death was preventable had [they] acted properly and without gross negligence in the fashion in which they treated and prematurely discharged their patient."
The family is seeking damages in several areas, including James Yates' pain and suffering, the financial support Yates, 50, would have given his family, including his two daughters until "the end of his life expectancy," and any other damages the court sees fit to award.
The lawsuit claims:
* Patel "intentionally and consciously ignored his own clinical findings" about his patient's depression and suicidal tendencies, prescribed a drug that placed Yates "at risk of serious harm to himself including suicide," and did not guarantee his patient was getting proper treatment and that therapy groups were not meeting as scheduled.
* Patel ignored information that Yates was manipulating the staff by saying he was not depressed or suicidal and did not heed the warnings of Yates' private outpatient psychiatrist, Dr. David Nover, who disagreed with the discharge.
* Warminster Hospital failed to have appropriate staff treat Yates and failed to follow proper guidelines when treating patients like Yates, and did not have its team of behavior health specialists, who set up Yates' treatment plan, consult on his discharge.
Officials at Warminster Hospital could not be reached for comment on Thursday. Patel also could not be reached for comment at his office.
According to court papers, Yates had attempted suicide on June 16, 2006, and again on Aug. 4, 2006, after receiving treatment at the Horsham Clinic for major depression.
On Aug. 6, he was admitted to Warminster Hospital where the staff, including Patel, started him on a regimen of medication and counseling. Yates was closely monitored for suicide attempts and hospital notes indicated he was depressed and hopeless.
Soon Patel began giving another drug, Effexor, to Yates. On Aug. 10, Patel wrote in a note that Yates was still depressed, that he planned to increase the medication, and "if patient improves then will discharge tomorrow," court papers said.
The following day, a discharge note was entered, saying "James is alert and oriented to all spheres. He currently denies being suicidal or homicidal," and he planned to receive treatment at another facility and had a follow-up appointment scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2006, the suit said.
Yates hanged himself on Aug. 15 prior to the appointment.
According to the suit, Yates' private treating psychiatrist, Nover, disagreed with the discharge and called Patel about it. Patel explained to him that "Yates had made a rapid improvement in anxiety and depression from the addition of Effexor," which started on Aug. 8.
But Nover said he "strongly disagreed" and Yates "remained a danger to himself." Nover also told Patel he doubted the drug could have worked after only a few days of use.
Nover also told Patel that Barbara Yates said her husband disliked the hospital, was "not receiving any real therapy and that many of the groups which are posted are not conducted. James Yates also told his wife that he would tell the staff anything that was necessary to be discharged."
Hilary Bentman can be reached at 215-538-6380 or hbentman@phillyBurbs.com.
July 27, 2007 6:32 AM