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JD, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 1335
Experience:  Over 11 years in practice as a litigator ... civil and criminal
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I was recently a patient in a psychiatric wing of county hospital.

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I was recently a patient in a psychiatric wing of county hospital. No housekeeping done, i.e. no linens changed, no tp, no personal hygeine products given. 5 days, only 1/2 hour of group therapy, nothing else. locked on ward, and treated worse than a criminal. I was only there to "tweek" my depression meds. Do I have any recourse to bad inhumane treatment?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  JD replied 5 years ago.

A good civil lawsuit consists of three things. 1) A cause of action... 2) damages... and 3) a solvent defendant that is able to pay any resulting judgment. Your case seems to have complications with all three factors.


1) Cause of action - Your cause of action could be potential civil rights violations and could be professional malpractice (suing your treating physician and the hospital). Your status of admission (voluntary or involuntary) will make a difference in the civil rights aspect of your case. Also their restrictions and methods will have to be compared to other hospitals of the same variety to determine what restrictions and deprivations are reasonable given the circumstances they treat. The nature of the treatment provided will fall under a malpractice category but will again be determined upon the reasonableness of the physician's actions compared to others similarly situated in your extended geographical location. I realize this is complicated.... but that is exactly my point. These cases are very difficult.


2) Damages - This could be your hardest obstacle. Unless you were a voluntary admission and were not permitted to leave or check out on your own (locked in the ward) then you may have difficulty establishing any lasting damages that resulted from the hospital's lack of proper care. While their actions may have been wrong, may have violated your civil rights, and may have been malpractice, that will not be enough to justify a lawsuit.


3) Solvent defendant - This issue also presents problems due to governmental immunity. While governmental agencies have specific immunities in place to protect from overreaching lawsuits, there are specific instances that permit a plaintiff to sue. You may or may not fall into one of these categories. Even if you do, the amount of damages is normally capped at a certain amount. Right or wrong... it has been determined that protecting the government from overreaching lawsuits supersedes the protection of an individual plaintiff.


Basically, the answer to your question is... maybe.


You may have a viable lawsuit. It will be complicated and difficult to pursue. I recommend you speak to more than one or two lawyers about this before making a final decision. Also, while you are correct to be asking a civil rights attorney about your case you should also consult an attorney who handles medical malpractice. When looking into your history, treatment options, and the hospital's conduct your attorney may find that no lawsuit is warranted... but you should explore this question with more than one or two attorneys before giving up.


Please reply if I can help further.



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JD, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 1335
Experience: Over 11 years in practice as a litigator ... civil and criminal
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