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Family of allegedly murdered hospital patient files lawsuit

Many, or even most, instances of alleged medical malpractice in a hospital setting, be it in Connecticut or anyplace else, are leveled at people who are employed by or work at the facility. Surgical mistakes, unsanitary conditions and failure to follow proper procedures can all be sources of hospital negligence.

But sometimes the alleged direct cause of injury or death to a patient is another patient. When those incidents occur, we have to question whether hospital personnel might still be an indirect source of harm and guilty of medical malpractice in the failure to properly protect a patient.

This fact pattern is the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit being brought against a hospital by surviving family members of a man who was apparently strangled in his hospital room by another man who was sharing it with him. The family alleges that the other man had a lengthy criminal record that included at least one potentially violent crime and should have been monitored by hospital staff.

They have also expressed anger that evidently no one at the hospital was available to help the victim when the murder took place. A housekeeping employee discovered his body after the fact.

The implication of hospital negligence appears to be that the hospital should have known about the potentially violent and dangerous patient and should have taken steps to prevent the now-accused killer from harming another patient.

While the law may not go so far as to require hospitals to do background checks on patients before admitting them, they should know enough about a patient from taking a medical history upon admission to be aware of the possibility of danger to other patients, as well as to those who work in the facility. Hospitals and staff members are expected to provide care for patients and take steps to keep them safe. Should they fail in this responsibility, they can and should be held accountable for the damages that result.

Source: CBS Miami, "Family of Man Killed at Aventura Hospital Takes Legal Action," Joan Murray, July 11, 2014

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