Newlywed Commits Suicide While Awaiting Medical Evaluation and Treatment

05-17-2010
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Hodes Milman Liebeck Represents Deceased’s Wife Against Hospital and Doctors for Medical Negligence

ORANGE COUNTY, CA – Daniel M. Hodes of the medical malpractice and personal injury law firm Hodes Milman Liebeck Liebeck, LLP is representing Melissa Stewart, the newlywed wife of John David Stewart, a successful 51 year-old stock market analyst who committed suicide while in the emergency room of Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach, CA. The lawsuit filed in the Orange County California Superior Court, alleges that the hospital and its co-defendants were responsible for the wrongful death of Mr. Stewart due to their medical negligence in failing to properly treat and supervise Stewart while he was a patient admitted into the hospital on a 72-hour hold for psychiatric evaluation and treatment.

“This tragedy could have been prevented had the hospital maintained proper observation of my client’s husband,” said Mr. Hodes.

“Mr. Stewart clearly should have been put under constant watch.”Stewart had a long, documented history of alcoholism, bipolar affective disorder and depression, as well as suicidal ideation.  On August 4, 2009, Stewart was taken to the emergency room at Mission Hospital by police who believed that he was a danger to himself, and who requested that Stewart be held at the facility for 72 hours for evaluation and treatment. At that time of admittance, Stewart had superficial cuts to his neck and thigh, and a blood alcohol level of more than five times the legal limit.  He also admitted to drinking a bottle of vodka and swallowing a bottle of Ambien. In spite of these facts, and over the concerns of his wife, Stewart was released from the 72-hour hold and discharged from the hospital the next day.

A week later police responded to a call from Stewart’s wife saying that she feared her husband would try to kill himself.  When the police arrived they found Stewart intoxicated and in very poor physical condition. Stewart told police that he was going to hurt himself and asked them to place him on a 72-hour treatment and evaluation hold because he was in fear for his own safety.

After being admitted for evaluation at the hospital, Stewart was left unattended for one hour before hospital staff noticed that he was not visible on the room-mounted security camera. When staff entered Stewart’s room they found him dead, lying on the floor with a pool of blood around his head and suction cord tubing wrapped around his neck.

The lawsuit, filed on March 10th claims that the defendants failed to maintain proper observation, supervision, examination, diagnosis, care, treatment, therapy and administration of medicines, resulting in Stewart’s death.


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