Family of suicide victim sues Alberta Hospital for $750,000 for alleged non-admittance
Published on: February 26, 2016 | Last Updated: February 26, 2016 3:52 PM MST
A nursing station inside Building 8 at Alberta Hospital in Edmonton. File photo. JOHN LUCAS / EDMONTON JOURNAL
A mentally ill Edmonton woman’s family is claiming she jumped to her death from the seventh floor of the Chateau Lacombe after being turned away at Alberta Hospital.
And the family says in a recent $753,000 lawsuit against the province that it was the third time she was refused admittance at a psychiatric facility — despite her clear need for treatment — and sent away in a taxi.
In a statement of claim filed in court on Feb. 19, the daughter, parents and brother of Janette Peterson allege she was a diagnosed psychiatric patient who had been hospitalized for suicidal tendencies a number of times.
The family claims she took “definite and extreme steps” to attempt suicide in February 2014 — including renting a hotel room and hiring strangers to harm her — and say that and all of her treatment records were fully available on the net care system for medical professionals to review.
The family alleges that Peterson, who is diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder, had twice tried to commit herself to the Royal Alexandra Hospital’s psychiatric unit for her own personal safety and she was denied admittance, provided with cab fare and told to go home.
According to the statement of claim, Peterson posed a clear and imminent threat to herself on Feb. 22, 2014, and her daughter and a friend took her to Alberta Hospital.
The family alleges Peterson clearly presented as suicidal and likely non-compliant with her medications and the admitting nurse assured them that she would be assessed.
However, instead of assessing or admitting Peterson, the family alleges that the hospital turned her away and called her a cab.
According to the statement of claim, Peterson checked herself in at the downtown Chateau Lacombe and jumped to her death from the seventh floor on Feb. 23, 2014.
The family alleges the death was the result of negligence by the doctors and staff at the two hospitals for failing to admit her, failing to properly monitor her and for failing to notify the family that she had been denied admission.
They claim the defendants, which include Alberta Health Services, Alberta Hospital, Royal Alexandra Hospital, the admitting nurse and several doctors and staff members, have a duty to both Peterson and the general public to admit those who are suffering from mental disorders and are likely to cause harm to themselves or others.
The statement of claim also alleges that the defendants have a duty to ensure that “bed pressure” does not result in patients in demonstrable need being turned away.
Statements of defence have not yet been filed.Statements of claim and statements of defence contain allegations which have not been proven.
Many of us would not believe that this sort of situation would arise in our city hospitals. Unfortunately unless you have a strong advocate the fact is that the mentally ill patient may not get the help he or she needs.
No doubt the cases are not heard because the mentally ill have no voice in our society.
In this case, the family have given their mentally ill family member a voice.
But will this decision to go public change anything in the mental health system that has been in shambles for decades?
I doubt it.