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Psychiatrist Beaten By Patient at Hospital

Psychiatrist Beaten By Patient at Hospital

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traumatic brain injury, fracture orbit, violence against hospital staff, violent patients, Med League, Damages

Violence by patients against hospital staff is a growing concern. In a Virginia case, a psychiatrist was beaten by a patient and suffered a traumatic brain injury, a fractured eye socket, concussion, and skull fracture. He is now depressed, has post-traumatic stress disorder and vision impairment which prevents him from working.

The injury

The August 2011 Trial Magazine write-up explains that the patient twice approached the doctor while he was employed at Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center. During the first encounter, the patient made statements to the physician before he was escorted away. In the second encounter, the patient formed his hand into the shape of a gun and pressed it against the doctor’s head and said “bang.”

The patient approached the doctor at the nursing station and beat him.

The standard of care issues raised in this case related to the inadequate security provided. Although violent incidents occurred every few days at the facility, it retained only one part-time security guard to patrol the parking lot.

In Shetty v. Psychiatric Solutions, Inc., the jury awarded 5.35 million. Post-trial motions are pending. Case site: No. CL09-1873 (Virginia, Norfolk City Cir. Nov 22, 2010.)

Evaluation of these kinds of cases is based on determining if an event was foreseeable. Dr. Shetty’s attorneys argued that the patient had threatening behavior, a documented history of violence and was involuntarily committed to the facility. He was placed on the lowest watch level.

Standard of care
Violence against staff may take place anywhere in the hospital. Emergency and psychiatric nurses are particularly sensitized to this issue, as they are more common targets. As this case shows, the facility has an obligation to protect its staff by accurately identifying the risk of violence (to the extent possible) and providing safeguards for staff.

Med League provides medical expert witnesses to trial lawyers. Please call us at (908)788-8227 or contact us today to discuss your next case.


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