Archive for Friday, January 19, 2007

Mother files suit in suicide case

January 19, 2007


In the two years since her daughter took her own life, Kathy Mitchell said the community has done little to help those who need long-term crisis care.

"I don't want other people to go through what I've gone through the last two years, the pain I've felt. That's why I've come forward," Mitchell said.

Mitchell has filed a lawsuit against those she alleges caused the wrongful death of her daughter, Brianna Mitchell, by turning her away in her time of need.

The lawsuit, filed in Douglas County Court on Jan. 10, lists Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and two individuals as defendants. She is seeking $750,000 in damages.

Gene Meyer, LMH president and CEO, said he could not comment on the lawsuit.

"Our position is that we wouldn't be able to comment on it until we have seen it, and we have not seen it," Meyer said.

David Johnson, Bert Nash CEO, said he also was unaware of the lawsuit and could not comment.

Two years ago, Brianna Mitchell showed up at the hospital emergency room, saying she felt suicidal.

With no inpatient mental health facility to keep her in and no way to get her to a state inpatient facility, hospital officials told her to go home and come back the next day, according to Mitchell's lawsuit. The next morning she was treated for an overdose of drugs and alcohol.

After four days in the hospital's intensive care unit, Brianna Mitchell died. Her death was officially ruled a suicide.

Since the hospital's inpatient mental health unit closed in April 2004, the city and county have been without a way to keep and treat people with a mental crisis, Mitchell said.

The hospital recently opened the Crisis Stabilization Center as a branch of the Emergency Room to help those in crisis. The outpatient service has served between 40 and 70 people a month, but hospital officials have said there are no plans to reopen an inpatient mental health wing.

Kathy Mitchell interview

Kathy Mitchell explains why she chose to file her lawsuit against Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Bert Nash, and two care providers two years after her daughter's death. Enlarge video

Task force formed

In May 2005, the Douglas County Community Health Improvement Project organized a mental health task force to look at how to effectively provide inpatient services to county residents in crisis.

More than a year later, in the task force's report to CHIP leadership, it stated about 14 daily patients were necessary to have a fully functioning inpatient mental health unit. According to the report, the hospital's unit, when open, served about eight patients per day at its peak in 2002.

After the number of doctors willing to staff the unit declined, some workers, including the unit's program director, resigned, leading to the unit's closure, the report stated.

But several members of the task force argued that an inpatient unit in the county was still necessary. At the least, the report stated, a full-time planning committee should keep track of mental heath needs so the city and county could be prepared if the data showed an inpatient facility were necessary.

"Systematic data collection and analysis by a trained professional is required to paint a complete picture of the current mental health system in Douglas County and identify unmet needs," the report stated.

But some task force members said that since they gave CHIP leadership the report in July, little has happened.

In early November, CHIP Executive Director Janelle Martin sent a letter to the former task force members promising that the new mental health committee would be convened by the first of the year.

But as of Thursday, the committee had yet to convene and still did not have the full eight members the task force requested last July.

Martin said in an interview that the CHIP leadership group had spent most of the fall reviewing the task force's recommendations and that project members had been busy with the six other active CHIP task forces.

She said that the committee wasn't in place "100 percent," but that she hoped the full eight members would be in place by the end of the month.

When asked what members were in place, Martin declined to say.

"I think I'd like to be able to hold off on an announcement until we're ready to move forward," Martin said.

Lawrence resident Kathy Mitchell is pictured with a photograph of her daughters, Katy Miller, left, and Brianna Mitchell. In January 2005, Brianna died after an overdose. Kathy Mitchell has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and others, claiming Brianna's suicide could have been prevented.

Lawrence resident Kathy Mitchell is pictured with a photograph of her daughters, Katy Miller, left, and Brianna Mitchell. In January 2005, Brianna died after an overdose. Kathy Mitchell has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and others, claiming Brianna's suicide could have been prevented.

Process raises questions

Former task force member Alan Miller said he was unsettled by CHIP leadership's slow pace in putting the permanent task force together. So long as the group isn't up and running, Miller said, city and county leaders will be left in the dark about how many people in the county actually need inpatient mental health services.

Meanwhile, Miller said, expansion has already started at the hospital, basically ending hopes of opening a new inpatient mental health unit without giving the committee the chance to gather data to see if such a unit is necessary.

"It's almost like a conspiracy," Miller said.

Undersheriff Kenny Massey, a former member of the task force, said he was concerned that the task force asked for only another committee to look at the issue, rather than seeking inpatient services in the county - something he said the county still needs.

"I thought that the board reached a consensus that there was the need for inpatient services of some kind," Massey said. "(Another committee) wasn't what the community wanted."

Kathy Mitchell mirrored Massey's sentiment. She said that since the inpatient facility closed, nothing has happened in Lawrence at all, "except some people talking.

"That's why I filed the suit," she said. "I'm hoping it will wake them up."


Rhoen 11 years, 2 months ago

My thoughts and prayers remain with Kathy Mitchell, as they have been since this tragedy occurred, as well as the families and friends of others in our community who have died of their mental illnesses when they could not find caring and effective medical aid.

It is shameful when a hospital, its Board and medical providers base their decisions on cost-effectiveness rather than on and consequential human costs when a hospital won't attempt to meet those needs.

Was it just a coincidence that the ostentatious Bert Nash building was ready for occupancy by people who are incapable and/or unwilling to effectively handle mental health crises just as the LMH psych unit was being shut down? Or was the beautiful Bert Nash facility a simply convenient excuse to step away from the problem while at the same time providing an income for select local artists and a locale for society cocktail soirees?

Either way ... people in Douglas County need to have a facility that can function to alleviate the suffering that occurs among those with severe mental illness and those who love them. It's sad that this siutation might only have become a "crisis" for the defendants in this lawsuit the day the papers were served on them.

Steve Jacob 11 years, 2 months ago

I think the mother is just trying to find blame for a situation where no one is to blame. Sure LMH should have better mental health facility, but that does not make them at fault.

Losing a child in tough.

Sharilyn Wells 11 years, 2 months ago

I feel for this woman. Cynical bloggers will say that it is about the money. Do any of you even know what the mental health center is supposed to provide in terms of crisis intervention. They say that they have crisis intervention specialists and attendant care workers that can go into people's homes. However, there was no mention of anyone going to this womans's house during the days preceding this unfortunate event nor on the evening in which she could not be transported to the state hospital. It would be instructive if the state would tell us what is supposed to exist. What is troubling is that services that barely exist are held up as available.

werekoala 11 years, 2 months ago

I can't begin to imagine the pain of losing a child. And LMH may well need additional mental health services.

But a lawsuit isn't the right way (in my mind) to get them. A campaign/petition might be more effective if that's what you truely feel would make the difference in saving lives.

Plus, I'm not sure I agree with the logic. The mindset I see from this lawsuit is that if anyone needs a treatment LMH can't provide and ends up dying, then LMH would be sued. Sorry, but I don't think there's a hospital in the world that can provide every specialized service that could conceivably be needed - different hospitals specialize in different area.

Might as well sue Children's Mercy because they weren't able to treat your grandmother's heart problems.

That said, be nice everyone - she did lose a child.

cowboy 11 years, 2 months ago

I worked in crisis clinics , committment courts , and a large county ER room when younger . and had the horrible experience of having clients take their own lives. There are many who threaten and make attempts that are cries for help then there are the ones who are serious. These folks when in this state will try whether in hospital or not unfortunately. Often they are very adept at making their wishes come true regardless of family and professionals efforts. While I feel the lawsuit is uncalled for my prayers for the family's recovery and for the mental health workers and law enforcement that has to deal with these issues on a daily basis.

staff04 11 years, 2 months ago

I think that if the hospital turned her away without at least doing a screening or risk evaluation, then the hospital is largely at fault for their actions that day, ESPECIALLY if they did not contact the County SRS office, whose responsibility it would have been to ultimately decide if she should go home or be moved to a facility that could deal with her.

staff04 11 years, 2 months ago

And to note, the article doesn't mention whether the hospital did any kind of screening or if they just said, "we can't help you, go away."

kansasrose 11 years, 2 months ago

I'm surprised it has taken her this long to file a lawsuit. To send someone who is suicidal, home, makes no sense. If I was having chest pains, and went to LMH, they wouldn't send me home, because they have the facilities to treat that problem. As a suicide survivor, having lost my husband and best friend, Gordon in May, 2004, I know what this woman is struggling with. I don't think that having an inpatient mental health unit is all that extraordinary. There are other hospitals with smaller census, that continue operating mental health units.

I met with the CEO, Gene Meyer and asked him, point blank, why there was no unit. He spent an hour explaining the enormous costs, passing the buck about doctors not finding it lucrative enough to work on a unit, blah, blah, blah. He promised to appoint me to some sort of taskforce. That never happened. I found it ironic that we met in his conference room, amidst several boxes as the executive suite was in the process of moving into new, fancy digs.

I know that the night this young lady came to the E.R., there was talk about transporting her to another facility, but, the roads were bad. Certainly LMH saw the urgency of her situation, and had they had a unit to admit her to, she may not have died that night.

Yes, people that are suicidal will, when they are set on it, do what they can to 'succeed'. But, not always. I think that it is horrible that a person has to leave THIS community, and travel, sometimes in the middle of the night, to another facility, in another community.

Yes, the stabilization unit is a start. But, c'mon, it's just patching up a huge hole in services. Huge. As you can see, this is a personal issue for me. Even my kids, my husband's children, wonder why in the world the hospital stopped 'taking care of dad'. The hospital he did go to, in another community, sucked big time. The care was horrible.

I pray that Ms. Mitchell at the very least gets the attention of people in this community regarding the fact that, if you are mentally ill in Lawrence, Kansas, you need to go elsewhere.

mkdavis 11 years, 2 months ago

"It is shameful when a hospital, its Board and medical providers base their decisions on cost-effectiveness rather than on and consequential human costs when a hospital won't attempt to meet those needs."

Do you understand that there are hospitals shutting down all over the country because they cannot afford to keep the doors open? If you would like to require Lawrence Memorial to have specialized treatments then maybe the county should foot the bill for any losses the hospitals encounters which would come from taxpayers. Maybe those who are very passionate about the topic could rally together and raise or donate money to provide a mental health department. Until that happens Lawrence Memorial should have savvy business people operating the hospital so that it stays open for the greater good of the community.

Lawsuits are a major part of the financial problem. Every $750,000 spent on a lawsuit is $750,000 that could have been invested in doctors or facilities at the hospital. If individuals would like to do something to get the ball rolling one could always redirect their negative energy "like suing" into positive "like fundraising". Maybe creating a fund to raise money for a mental health facility would be a better way to remember someone in a positive light then suing in their name.

KSChick1 11 years, 2 months ago

Did you know that the pediatric unit at LMH is usually shut down unless they have a patient? Then nurses with the proper training are sent to that unit when there is a patient.

Why can't the mental health unit be run the same way?

It might not be the ultimate excellent solution, but it would be better than, "we can't treat you and the roads are bad so we can't transport you anywhere that can treat you so go away."

Rhoen 11 years, 2 months ago

Sasquatch, a number of the assumptions in your post are incorrect although not relevant or meaningful to my own concerns about our community's inability to manage critical issues involving human suffering.

But to answer at least one of your questions, "what have you done today?" Perhaps I've been up since 4:00 this morning trying to aid a loved one of my own who is in crisis from a long-term mental illlness, losing hope, being bounced from BN to LPD to LMH to Osawatomie, both unable and unlikely to find help that the State mandated Bert Nash to provide.

Or, on the other hand, perhaps all I've done so far today is simply post some vapid opinions as I sip my Starbucks before I take a meeting with some local movers and shakers and then head over to the Country Club Plaza for a day of shopping. You choose - and see if what I've "done today" makes any difference to your processing of the issues raised in this story.

It's not surprising that many of the posts on this topic so far fail to support either Ms. Mitchell's suit or the need for some active efforts to provide adequate assistance to a growing population of citizens who are mentally ill (and their families).

Bert Nash is undoubtedly useful in many cases of transitory depression, active neuroses, family and personal strife, and other relatively "simple" mental health problems. BN is fortunate to have many caring employees who successfully deal with many of these problems.

But in cases of major psychoses and other mental breakdowns that lead to suicide and homicide ... Bert Nash is FAR less useful. BN and LMH don't have the ability or resources to deal with these life-threatening situations, and they don't seem particularly concerned about this.

A small unit where in-patient, medical intervention is available is a critical need, and to refuse to consider providing such a unit based on unsupported claims that there is too low a need or that such a need must be made to produce bottom-line dollars is simply wrong.

People who need this help shouldn't be turned away ... thrown away. In Brianna Mitchell's case, coverage of the events indicated that "screeners" determined she fit the criteria that mandated she be transported to the state hospital for the level of care she needed.

It appears that it was simply not convenient to take her there since it was the middle of the night and snowing. So, instead, the professionals required her mother to take her home.

If you haven't experienced a situation of this magnitude yourself, you are unlikely to understand. Or to particularly care.

lawrencechick 11 years, 2 months ago

"My guess is that She came into the hospital at a time when the on-call really did not want to come in, or she said some key words that led LMH to not even call the screener."

Please don't guess when you are that clueless. It's a disservice to the screeners who get dragged in every single night in every kind of weather with little pay. If the woman was going to be transferred then she must have had a full screening and was probably there for hours. The Journal World or the woman's mother doesn't mention any of that in the article. The crisis unit sees 40-70 mental health patients a MONTH and one person in the past 2 years has unfortunetly committed suicide. They must be doing something right.

optimist 11 years, 2 months ago

I'm sorry for her loss but if she isn't capable of handling the criticism then she shouldn't enter into a political debate. Nobody wants to see her suffer any more for the loss of her daughter but those who choose to mourn in public must accept that those who disagree with her will voice their opinions regardless of her feelings. I caution her to consider this before moving forward.

My position on this is simple. The hospital is owned by the community. If the lawsuit is successful it is you and I who will pay her leaving even less money for the hospital to help those that they currently do. Hospitals are full of people who earn their living caring for others and the vast majority does the best they can every day. If the hospital is required to pay her from their budget then a multi-million dollar verdict will result in potentially fewer doctors, nurses or life-saving medical equipment necessary for saving many lives now and in the future. The community as a whole will suffer.

Bert Nash is as far as I know funded mostly by private donations. Do you think those who donate will contribute to paying for this lawsuit? By draining Bert Nash of its resources you make the problem worse, not better. I don't know if they made an error here or not but if we file a lawsuit every time someone dies we will eventually have nobody to blame. There will be nobody willing to extend themselves in order to help those in need.

After reading the original story the mother must reflect on her responsibilities in this situation. Her daughter was in her care at the time of her death. I can't help but wonder how this girl gained access to the items she took. If her mother is to accuse the hospital of negligence then how much of the blame does she accept. If she believed her daughter was in such immanent crisis how is it that she allowed her out of her sight for even a moment all night? If I believed that my child was in danger of taking his/her life I wouldn't have been able to sleep let alone let him/her out of my sight until I knew he/she was in capable hands in a few hours. It is a shame the parent expected more of others than she did of herself in this situation. This lawsuit will hold the community responsible for her daughter's death. I'm sorry for her loss but projecting blame on the rest of us is not the way to grieve.

Emily Hadley 11 years, 2 months ago

This is a very sad case. While it may not have been possible to prevent, the girl was actively seeking help and her very presence in the ER communicates a sense of urgency.

There are trauma doctors and psychiatrists who are on call 24 hours a day; it is surprising that some step wasn't made to contact a counselor or specialist in the area.

Wasn't Headquarters 24 hours at that time? I thought one of their strategies was just to keep folks on the phone, anything to keep them from returning to an isolated state after making the first step to talk to someone.

If person who is seeking emergency help for suicidal thoughts is classified as less serious than someone with a broken finger, we must reevaluate the way people are screened and triaged as they come in to the ER. When other conditions require outside treatment, the capable treatment center is located and contacted, transport is arranged and the patient is charged for it. I don't see why this situation would have been any different.

bearded_gnome 11 years, 2 months ago

from Rhoen's very perceptive 9;14 post: "But in cases of major psychoses and other mental breakdowns that lead to suicide and homicide ... Bert Nash is FAR less useful. BN and LMH don't have the ability or resources to deal with these life-threatening situations, and they don't seem particularly concerned about this."

correct, and correct.

this woman's daughter is not the only suicide in the past two years due to the breakdown of mental health crisis intervention services. after the creation of the crisis stabilization rooms in the ER, my cousin presented at the ER, being suicidal. however, because of the manner of enforcement of the "smoke free campus" policy, this dear person was angry and frustrated, wandering away from the help; my cousin just wanted "a last smoke" before checking in. Suicide occurred less than 48 hours later.

while there might be more effective ways to respond than a lawsuit RE the money; this does serve, there's nothing like big $$$ to focus the attention.

lawrencechick 11 years, 2 months ago

Ridiculous...get your "last smoke" in before you check in. Don't waste their time!

bearded_gnome 11 years, 2 months ago

"After reading the original story the mother must reflect on her responsibilities in this situation. Her daughter was in her care at the time of her death. I can't help but wonder how this girl gained access to the items she took. If her mother is to accuse the hospital of negligence then how much of the blame does she accept. If she believed her daughter was in such immanent crisis how is it that she allowed her out of her sight for even a moment all night? If I believed that my child was in danger of taking his/her life I wouldn't have been able to sleep let alone let him/her out of my sight until I knew he/she was in capable hands in a few hours. It is a shame the parent expected more of others than she did of herself in this situation. This lawsuit will hold the community responsible for her daughter's death. I'm sorry for her loss but projecting blame on the rest of us is not the way to grieve."

seems, optimist hasn't ever had to care for a suicidal loved one. your comments would be nice, if they worked in the real world, however, people who are suicidal can be very effective at killing themselves. furthermore, hovering over them may make the situation far worse or result in a domestic violence situation. please don't blame this Mom for her daughter's death! please.

bearded_gnome 11 years, 2 months ago

this population probably has a higher than average rate of smoking. smoking often does serve to relax or provide an opportunity to think through things. no, I am not a proponent of smoking. however, for some, it is useful and helpful at crisis points in their lives.

with that attitude, perhaps you were the snooty nurse on duty when my cousin sought help at the ER?

lawrencechick 11 years, 2 months ago

Unfortunetly no...but when I pay my $700.00 a month in insurance premiums it makes me angry to see so many people abuse our health care system. People in third world countries would laugh at problems.

Kontum1972 11 years, 2 months ago

why did the girl not go to her Mom with her problem? my child always comes to me with his problems and i maintain an open door to what goes on with him, he is 16. A parents responsibility is 24/7, not once a day... you as the parent are responsible for your child's mental outlook you dont wait for them to come to can tell if something is eating at them. The 750K is not going to make it any better, it wont bring them back....!

Linda Endicott 11 years, 2 months ago

Do you all really think that someone wanting to commit suicide is in any way in their right mind? Do you believe they're thinking logically? Please...

For someone who smokes, denying them a last one before going into treatment is just going to escalate the situation. Do any of you have hearts?

As for this particular woman...if they thought the girl was serious enough to have her transported to another hospital, but no transportation was available, then why for God's sake didn't they just admit her to a regular room for the day or two she would have had to wait? At least there she wouldn't have had access to the pills and alcohol that she used. There would have been staff 24/7, and they could have checked on her.

Sending someone who is suicidal home is the equvalent of putting someone on hold when they call the suicide hotline. And don't laugh, that has happened, more times than the medical community wants to admit.

Why, apparently, are there so many mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, who don't want to be on call or have to go out in the middle of the night? Didn't they know before they got into the field that this was a possibility, that a mental health crisis isn't going to wait to happen until Mon.- Fri., from 9 to 5?

Are they in the field to help people, or to profit from their misfortunes?

Yes, I know people like to have their free time. But I never heard of a doctor who refused to deliver a baby in the middle of the night because the mother couldn't wait till morning.

A mental health crisis isn't going to wait to happen until it's convenient for the medical staff.

rubix 11 years, 2 months ago

Hmmm...I would think that instead of trying to sue and get a bunch of money, she would want to help start orgainizations to prevent this from happening to other families. Yes, that requires money, but money and support can come from sources through donations and companies instead of suing someone. I personally think that KU Jeeper has a legitimate point. Parenting is much like management. If something goes wrong, no matter what, its always your fault. Similar with the Columbine shooting...people wanted to say that Marilyn Manson was to blame for that, not the lack of parenting. I find it utterly rediculous that people support the idea that everyone else is to blame for the behavior of thier own children. I honestly can say that I feel upset for the woman for losing her child; that would be the most difficult thing to go through as a parent. But, if you want to make a difference, do it in a way that impacts the problem, not just your bank account.

kujeeper 11 years, 2 months ago

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Confrontation 11 years, 2 months ago

I don't think that any business/agency/whatever should be blamed for someone taking his/her own life. I definitely feel sorry for this mom, but who can say that LMH would have saved this girl? They could have locked her away somewhere, and then have no control over what happens after treatment. What if someone was suicidal over treatment from an employer? Should the employer be sued in the case of suicide? What if someone's dies in a house fire in rural DG Cty? Should the fire department be sued for not having a firetruck on each acre of land? Seriously, where does this end?

jennifermarti 11 years, 2 months ago

I do think that the amount of lawsuits filed is totally out of control! However it seems the only way to get the attention of people is to threaten them financially.

I cannot imagine losing a child, but this girl had to have had a history of problems but can you really blame the hospitals? They have limited $$ and resources and I would think do the best they can with what they have.

rubix 11 years, 2 months ago

Thankfully, there are some people who at least see that there are more sides to this than just one. Never is any problem simple, nor does it have one definite answer. But making a public lawsuit for money to avenge the death of a loved one seems to mock the value of their existence.

Alison Roberts 11 years, 2 months ago

To those that say this is a no blame situation... wrong. She went and asked for help. Despite the fact that the mental health unit is insufficent or non-existent, she went to the emergency room and they should have at least done something more proactive than telling her to come back the next day--she could have gone home and killed herself that evening. I think its ridiculous that a medical facility turned someone away in that condition.

when someone is feeling suicidal, it is very difficult to go get help..but she did and they turned her away. Its tragic. I hope she wins... because there is fault.

and yes "losing a child is tough" but its tougher when it could have been avoided.

rollcar 11 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, I'm confused. This girl commits suicide and it's the hospital's fault for not talking her out of it first? Do we sue the jail system for not recognizing a criminal and holding them before a crime is committed?

I certainly sympathize with those involved, but ultimately if somebody really wants to end their life, who is to blame for that?

rubix 11 years, 2 months ago

Suing for a lot of money just doesn't seem to be the right answer for me. If she really wanted to make a statement, continue the lawsuit, but ask for the $750,000 and use all the money to create a facility to help others in the same situation. If the $750,000 she (might) win (for herself) will help ease the pain of losing her child...she is a sick woman.

StirrrThePot 11 years, 2 months ago

Rollcar--"Yeah, I'm confused. This girl commits suicide and it's the hospital's fault for not talking her out of it first? Do we sue the jail system for not recognizing a criminal and holding them before a crime is committed?

I certainly sympathize with those involved, but ultimately if somebody really wants to end their life, who is to blame for that?"

Did you really read the article? She went to the ER because she was crashing, she even said she felt suicidal. They didn't have a place to put her so they said come back tomorrow. Lovely anaolgy too. She was sick and needed help, she wasn't robbing a bank.

Bone777 11 years, 2 months ago

I listened to the interview with the mother. She said the hospital did not have a way to transport her daughter to the mental facility in Osawatomie, Kansas, and that was not an option for her.

She said that she decided to sleep next to her daughter that night and thought she would wake up if her daughter got up. She didn't and ended up finding her daughter, not breathing, when she woke up.

This was a tragedy, no doubt, but I don't think playing the blame game (i.e. lawsuits) is appropriate.

Godot 11 years, 2 months ago

"Do you understand that there are hospitals shutting down all over the country because they cannot afford to keep the doors open?"

That does not even begin to apply to LMH, with their multimillion dollar expansion. I know we should be glad that we will soon have access to a "destination hospital" in our town, but I would much rather see a hospital that provides more, including a psych unit, for less, than the services for fewer, for more $, that we will see in the future.

doc1 11 years, 2 months ago

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Rhoen 11 years, 2 months ago

The smug and self-confident parents who are posting here who think they could avoid experiencing what happened to this mother and her daugher ...

The fact that you and your child are not in this situation is far less an artifact of your wonderful parenting than it is an indication of your wonderful luck ...

While I expected to see some victim-blaming here this morning when I first posted, the level of venom and hatefulness in some of these posts astounds even me (a strong believer in the Hobbsian / Freudian view of human nature).

Hopefully, if what "goes around" actually does "come around," when it gets to you, it will bring you the gift of compassion in the midst of your own pain.

Bone777 11 years, 2 months ago

scenebooster - that would have been negligent.

This was a 'medical' facility, with no mental health accomodations.

KEITHMILES05 11 years, 2 months ago

If the hospital can show there was no malice nor was this individual the first patient to be turned away and they have written policies which were adhered to then it will not be held liable.

It is very true many facilities do not have the means to care for mentally ill patients. Even getting them to a state facility is a huge task and many of those facilities stay at capacity.

While this is a sad thing to have occur I am sure LMH was not discriminating against this individual. No doubt they have had to do this numerous times before.

adky 11 years, 2 months ago

It's all about the $$ and any attempt to pass it off as an attempt to improve services is shameful. Who will pay? Patients and LMH. LMH will then have less money to provide services. My guess is that this lady will not spend any settlement she gets on improving services at LMH.

rubix 11 years, 2 months ago

Wishing misfortune on someone's family is almost as sick as suing for money due to the death of a family member.

"someone I cared for passed away...give me lots of money."

fayrae 11 years, 2 months ago

I lost my brother and father to suicide 22 years ago, then last year my son tried to commit suicide. This whole situation could of been avoided, no one should be told to come back another day if they are suicidal, no one! In this case I don't think it's about the money, it's the principal. I would do the same thing if my son was turned away. God bless you Kathy.

Bone777 11 years, 2 months ago

I think a good indication of what the intent of this lawsuit is about, could be answered if you asked the mother.....

Since your daughter's death, two years ago, how many hours have you volunteered or dollars have your spent to help the mentally unhealthy in the community?

It all depends....

rubix 11 years, 2 months ago

If its all about principle, then money should never even be involved except to help create programs for others to benefit from. I like the post made by Bone777 on this much has this mother done to help others? If she was done so wrong to deserve that much money, how has she kept other families from asking for $750,000 and giving them hope? The issue of her daughter's death seems to fall on the back burner while she asks for her money to 'cope'.

BS20 11 years, 2 months ago

If the money will wake the people up that is a good thing. The money should go to the cause though not to the family members bank account.

rubix 11 years, 2 months ago

We have a winner! My point exactly.

BS20 11 years, 2 months ago

had to simplify and re-emphasize =)

Calliope877 11 years, 2 months ago

I can't get over the fact that they told her to go home and come back tomorrow despite her telling them she was feeling suicidal! WTF???!!! Okay, maybe they had nowhere to send her, but still....

lilchick 11 years, 2 months ago

Most hospitals that are not equipped with the nessecary staff/facilities have patients sign No-Suicide "Contracts" or No-Violence "Contracts. After reading both this story and the previous story linked by smitty, I'm gathering that LMH wanted to do something but unfortunatly the ambulance service refused to transport her to the state hospital, and the mother said that she was unable to as well. After that, I'm throwing a guess out that the staff had Brianna sign a contract and sent her home with the hopes that tomorrow they would be capable of sending her to the state hospital. Sadly, that was too late. If anyone deserves a law suit it sounds to me like it should be the ambulance company that refused transport.

That being said, I am very sorry for Kathy's loss.

james bush 11 years, 2 months ago

This sad story stirs the emotions. Makes one want to know the degree of altruism motivating support for the complaint and the plaintiff in the lawsuit. Seems there could be better ways to correct something lacking in the community's efforts to care for the health of its citizens.

fayrae 11 years, 2 months ago

Why do people go to the hospital? To get help for heath care needs, not to be turned away and told to come back the next day. It is unforgiveable

lilchick 11 years, 2 months ago

Very true fayrae, however, not all hospitals are equipped to handle all circumstances. LHM, realized that they were ill-equipped and tried, unsuccessfully to transport her to the state hospital. Why not point anger towards the ambulance service who refused to transport her? Or the mother for not trying to find another way to get her daughter to the hospital?
(DISCLAIMER:I am in NO way saying I blame the mother for her daughter's death, I just feel that blindly pointing fingers without looking at all possible angles is not right and I am trying to look at angles that some cannot seem to see.)

yankeelady 11 years, 2 months ago

One of the earlier posts referred to the pediatric unit only being staffed when there were patients. Peds can pull nurses from other areas. Pysch nursing is a specialty and a psych nurse is not going to be working on a medical floor waiting for a patient to be admitted. Also--there are no psychiatrist's willing to take 24 hr call to cover a psych unit. The hospital would be negligent if they tried to do heart surgery without the proper specialists. Same situation. You don't just put somebody in a room and hope for the best. It's a catch 22. If there is a settlement I'd hope the money would go to help solve the problem

Tom McCune 11 years, 2 months ago

I don't know the facts of this case. A jury will make a finding of fact. However, plaintiffs who file lawsuits like these should be compelled to pay the legal fees of the defendants, if the plaintiff loses. It's much too easy in this country for a plaintiff to get a lawyer on contingent fee to sue someone else. That means the plaintiff has no financial risk, but the defendant certainly faces huge legal fees and expenses regardless of the outcome.

The death is tragic. Maybe the plaintiff has a valid claim. Maybe its like suing your plumber because your auto mechanic failed to fix your car.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 11 years, 2 months ago

If a community the size of Lawrence, has no short term inpatient beds for mental problems and suicidal people, it should have. To tell a suicidal individual to come back the next day is unforgiveable. There may be no next day for them. I have been in this lady's situation. My wife and myself have both lost family members to suicide. I don't blame her for sueing the hospital. You don't send a suicidal person away in the night and tell them, come back in the morning. If Lawrence's hospital is not going to help their citizens, I understand this is a community owned hospital, then they should have a crisis program in place to get immediate care at a KC hospital. Perhaps KU Hospital or KU medical Center. This is a disgrace to the citizens of Lawrence. If it was my family member that died due to this type of negligence, I should be rightfully compensated for that loss by the idiots that in essence said, take two aspirin and call me in the morning. Thank you, Lynn

areyoukidding 11 years, 2 months ago

I'm sorry, but this is outrageous. I think she is trying to displace her guilt over not being there for her daughter. Sorry she lost a child and all that, but really, I think when somebody at such a young age chooses to end their life, parenting, or lack there of, is at least partially to blame. If nothing else, she should have felt able to talk to her mother about her feelings, rather than going to the ER probably knowing they didn't have a psych unit to admit her to. I agree, in a town the size of Lawrence, particularly with all of the KU students (as well as the resources available from KU), there should be somewhere for people to go, unfortunately that is not the case. But in a simple sense, it's like suing Hardee's because they aren't in Lawrence and I had to eat at McDonald's and it made me fat.

compmd 11 years, 2 months ago

In our overly litigious society where everyone believes that other people have to pay for their misfortune, this is classic. Yes, I agree that the hospital needs some mental health facilities. I think its very sad that this girl lost her life. But this is reality, bad things happen. With the combination of bad weather and no qualified people to help her, what was the hospital going to do? Think about this: its snowing hard and you crash your car accidentally in a rural area. Lifestar says, "we can't fly in this" and you would succumb beforean ambulance could get to you. Should your survivors sue Lifestar for not flying in dangerous weather? Should they sue the county for not having enough fire stations or hospitals? Who to sue?

$750k is a lot of money to take from a hospital like LMH. How is that going to help anyone? If anything this woman's cause is detrimental to the well being of the public.

Bad things happen. Don't get me wrong, I'm not unsympathetic, but if you live your life expecting a safety net at every step, you're not being realistic. Pointing a finger out of anger, frustration, or despair is only going to make more people angry, frustrated, and desparate.

Drop the lawsuit, start a foundation for your daughter, donate the proceeds to the hospital to fund a mental health unit and name it after the poor girl and be done with it.

lori 11 years, 2 months ago

The nurses from peds are cross-trained from the mother-baby unit. They are not pulled from anywhere else in the hospital.

Where would the nurses from the mental health unit come from? That is a specialty that doesn't really have much cross-over. Who would want to be hired on a unit where you only worked 50% or less of the time that you were supposed to, and the rest of the time you either floated to units outside of your area of expertise, or were sent home without a paycheck?

Did the hospital send her home, or did the mother and daughter agree to go home? I dont' know, it's just a question--but we don't know all the sides to the story, just the mother's side.

kansasrose 11 years, 2 months ago

Mom SHOULD feel guilty? Just because she's her mom? Huh? My own illness (breast cancer) I should somehow find fault with my mom? What? Responsibility? This young woman went to a hospital for help. Help. She said, "I'm in big trouble and am suicidal'. At that point, she's at least got a handle on what she's feeling and was in good enough shape to recognize she needed help. Snow, hail, sunshine, doesn't matter. Mental illness will rain down on a family like nothing you've ever experienced. And, when a person has the sense to admit they are suicidal, in this case, the hospital should move heaven and earth to GET HER HELP She needed help, not to be sent home. And, suicidal behavior is not exactly a rare ailment.

People are pretty ignorant when it comes to mental illness. I would not be surprised if this mom DOES fund a foundation! I've been fortunate to meet several dozens of survivors, many that are moms or dads and believe me, they were loving, supportive, intelligent people.

If I went to LMH with problems with my breast cancer, and was told that the weather was bad and I couldn't be transported to another facility (which would be really dumb, because lots of people in Lawrence get breast cancer) and I went home and got worse, and that lack of care took my life? I would hope that my survivors would sue.

For those of you who haven't experienced losing someone to suicide, I wouldn't wish this on you. I'll never 'recover' from my husband's suicide. I am learning how to live with it, though. And, part of the healing comes from examining every aspect of his death and trying to figure out what went wrong and what went right. I cannot say that the care he received in the other community helped him. And, I know that when the unit closed here in Lawrence, he said, 'I'm running out of options'. Options. The Breast Center, BREAST Center is next to the old entrance to the mental health unit. I know, because I travelled up that ramp to the unit many times with my husband. Everytime I pass by the Breast Center, and, don't get me wrong.... breast cancer is nothing to mess with, I am so sad. My husband and I were ill at the same time, and, the care I received compared to the care he received should not have been so different. But, there remains alot of people that equate suicide with a chosen behavior. Believe me, my husband didn't want to be suicidal. He tried everything he could. And, he knew that when he got to a certain point, he needed to be in a safe place, the sooner the better.

Lawrence is too good of a community NOT to take care of those with mental illness.

raine 11 years, 2 months ago

in a university town, have any of you ever heard of reading comprehension? The story clearly starts off with MS Mitchell's motivation behind the law suit. i don't think its the money, having lost a child(not to suicide but a bad decision on the dr.s part) you don't want it happening to anybody else. we've come along way from the hippocratic oath when dr.s pledged to save lives and now it is all about the mighty dollar or insurance mandating rules and regulations rather then health care. Unless you've walked a mile in her shoes, save your rhetoric..

bearded_gnome 11 years, 2 months ago

I am deeply saddened at the 'blame-the-Mom' or even, 'blame-the-daughter' attitudes on here! Wow. first, you people have no conception of what it means to have that scale of depression, or witness it daily in a loved one! "areyoukidding" even blames the mother's parenting! FGS! you know, some depressions are truly genetic, or biochemical, and the greatest parenting can still get you a clinically suicidal adult child!

Lilchick is right about a contract, but even that is a little questionable in this particular situation.

I will state again, Kathy's daughter is not the only preventable death resulting from the mental health crisis inadequacies.

finally, it has not been pointed out that suicide is rather an epidemic among teens and young adults in our country, accounting for a very high proportion of annual deaths, beyond illnesses, and right up there with criminal actions as in murder. this epidemic is especially hitting the American Indian population, and generally rural dwelling Americans. God help us all.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 2 months ago

I could see the lawsuit if the mother had not been present....

lilchick 11 years, 2 months ago

I really hope I didn't come across as blaming anyone, I was just trying to point out that, chances are the hospital did everything that their policies in place stated that they had to do. They tried to transport her, bad weather nixed that, they then (I am assuming on this, and I am aware of what happens when I do that!) should have had her sign a contract. Personally, I think the contracts are worthless. But, when you think about it, so is care in a lot of situations.
We don't know for certain that this was 'preventable'. If a person decides that they are going to do something, take their own life, starve to death, vomit themselves to death, eat to death, workout to death, any action to an extreme, there are times when even the worlds best mental health professionals cannot help, and obviously this case and others prove that even 24 hour watches prove fruitless at times. She could just as easily found a way to take her life during or after a hospital stay. The human mind is a very odd thing. My primary issue, aside from people automatically blaming without knowing everything (and no one knows everything), is that even if the courts find the hospital did everything it reasonably could, the costs of attorneys court fees, pr work, etc is going to set finances back. Not to mention if she does win. I guess, I just wish that she were putting all of this negative energy directed at LMH and Bert Nash towards fundraising to get the improvements for mental health care in Lawrence.

mkdavis 11 years, 2 months ago

It has become obvious that nobody read my previous comment. It sounds like some of you really have it all figured out maybe you should take your resume to LMH tomorrow and see if they are hiring any CEO's. Then you can build a big dept to deal with mentally ill patients it may cost a lot but at least we will save 1 life. When you run the hospital into the ground and it clsoes its doors maybe everyone can sue them because hundreds of people will be without.

I think we are missing the big picture here. Maybe we could get more money "or the ball rolling" if we went straight to the big dawg. Lets sue the government for not compensating hospitals more to treat mental patients. They are to blame sue the government.

deec 11 years, 2 months ago

I assume all the posters here who object to the mother's lawsuit for actual money hereby pledge themselves to never file a medical malpractice lawsuit, a legal malpractice lawsuit, or any type of product liability lawsuit? Depression is an illness. It is a disease. It is NOT a choice, the result of poor parenting, or any of the other malarkey intimated on this thread. It is a biochemical imbalance in the brain. Most depression is treatable with pharmaceuticals, talk therapy, and group support. Would you blame this grieving mother if her daughter were having a stroke or a heart attack, a perforated ulcer or peritonitis? Would you absolve the hospital of responsibility if they turned away the patient with any of these difficulties? Perhaps if the hospital weren't constantly renovating their structure, they would be able to provide incentives to mental health providers and reopen the psychiatric ward.

compmd 11 years, 2 months ago

" Would you absolve the hospital of responsibility if they turned away the patient with any of these difficulties?"

Well, if they don't have the doctors, facilities, or the ability to transport a patient to a doctor with the necessary facilities to treat them, what would you suggest the hospital do?

deec 11 years, 2 months ago

Hold them for observation. Treat them. If the hospital didn't have the "doctors or facilities, then why has LMH received government funding lo these many years? Stop spending millions every year on adding on to the building and then the psych ward perhaps would still be open. Stop supporting politicians who mandate cost-cutting by closing state hospitals in favor of underfunded community based services. Provide tax incentives to mental health practitioners to break the Bert Nash stranglehold on mental health services in Lawrence.

bearded_gnome 11 years, 2 months ago

Lilchick, I was not meaning to point at you RE blaming. just wanted to comment on the contract you brought up.

yes, it seems LMH is in perpetual growth/rebuilding/shifting/moving around.

what if in this community we eliminate that % for art thingy, and make it % for mental health, so that the same percent which would've gone for "art" goes to provide in-patient mental health services.

Ideas above are good including some tax incentives for mental health professionals. if you want more of something, then tax it less.

not all depression is biochemical or genetic (also RE above comment) but much of it is. sometimes life stresses, coping styles, lack of support system, unresolved grieving, etc., can lead to nonbiochemical depression. sometimes these then lead to biochemical depression if they persist.

I just want to say again, Kathy Mitchell should not be blamed for her daughter's depression or suicide. clearly, the daughter did share with her and she did a lot to support her. probably did more than many would.
as my previous post was meant to point out, this issue is not just a local issue and really our society does need to change its approach to mental health. as some of the posters above have shown, there is still stigma attached to having mental disorders, or to seeking help.

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