Video footage was recently released of an incident at a Florida state hospital in December; said footage reportedly depicts a schizophrenic patient locked alone in a dark room for an extended period of time while the nurse charged with his care sits outside the door.
The patient allegedly pleaded to be allowed out of the room. While locked inside, he soiled himself and fell numerous times. He also engaged in self-harm and ended up with multiple broken bones, fractures and bruises. After more than 40 minutes, another nurse escorted the patient from the room.
The accused mental health technician claims that the patient had struck her and needed time to cool off, according to the police report. The report also states that several of the nurse’s co-workers said that her treatment of the patient violated the hospital’s rules. Investigators concluded that the nurse’s actions violated a supervisor’s orders to the contrary. However, the nurse claims she was acting on the instructions of another co-worker. She was fired after the incident and was charged with elderly neglect.
The patient soon left the facility and recuperated from his injuries at other hospitals and nursing homes. He died earlier this year from choking. After his potential wrongful death, his sister filed a lawsuit against the company that operates the hospital.
The hospital may be found liable for the actions of its former employee on the basis of vicarious liability. In Florida, state regulations mandate the reporting of any suspected abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult, which is defined as an adult who is unable to care for his or herself due to mental illness or other impairment. The plaintiff and their counsel must demonstrate that the hospital administration was aware of the incident and failed to report the potential abuse.
Source: CBS Miami, “Exclusive: Video Shows Mentally Ill Man Closed In Room; Nurse Charged“, Carey Codd, August 29, 2014