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Medical Malpractice or Negligence, Held Against My Will in Hospital

 
 
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 12:39 am
My question involves medical malpractice in the state of: NY

I was taken to the hospital by a close relative (not immediate family) where I was told they needed help with something (which was a lie). Upon arriving to the hospital ER they told the security/doctors I had to be admitted for some unknown reason to me. During this time I was completely coherent and in a right state of mind and over the age of 21 with full legal rights over my body and mind. I was at this point taken into a closed room and locked in, a nurse came in and administered some sedative drug to me and they took a chest x-ray after having me put on a hospital gown. I asked the nurse multiple times what they are injecting me with and why in a calm manner but they refused to reply and told me to relax. After this point things become very blurry (effect of sedative) and I believe they admit me to a room in the psychiatry department to my amazement. I will give a short summary of my 3 week stay below:

I was in a small hospital psychiatry department (about 40 beds total in this department - maybe 30 filled with patients, mostly senile or mentally disturbed in some way). Upon regaining consciousness I remember asking innumerable times during my stay at this hospital for: A) Legal counsel, B) Reason for my stay, C) Request to be released, D) Medication I was being forced to take. The nurses on staff all refused to answer my questions and the whole department was secure (no entry in or out without a card key). I was held there for 3 weeks, despite my family coming to visit a few times I had no outside contact. My family refused to explain to me why I was there but told me it was in my interest and they were "helping" me. While I was an in patient for the 3 weeks, I was never able to go outside or even have an open window to breathe fresh air. I could see outside into the hospital courtyard which was enclosed (walls all around, no street or public view). I was forced to choose between the food the hospital provided and had to follow certain schedules they had set. There was a social worker who was assigned to my so called 'case'. I was able to speak to her regarding any concerns I may have. I was unable to use or have a cell phone (hence unable to call my friends for any legal help to be released). There were two pay phones which would sporadically work given that I had quarters to call someone and that I knew their phone number from memory. Essentially the only outside people I could readily speak to was my family whom insisted that I needed to be there to get "better". Speaking with the social worker brought no avail, he/she was available only at certain times for a meeting and would not explain why I was there or how she meant to help me leave, only to ask me questions. Naturally the first few days I realized my predicament, I could be held at this facility for an indeterminate amount of time under the behest of family and doctors without an underlying medical problem. I had no choice but to take the medication (which I later found out was Risperdal/Risperdone, Ambien and another anti-psychotic). Being a college educated person I knew I was not hallucinating, having visions, seeing things, hearing anything abnormal, being aggressive, or acting abnormal in any way. Yet here I was in a psychiatric ward with no rights... yes there was a sign claiming I had legal rights to a number of things which when asking the nurses to invoke my right to an attorney or counsel I was told they could not do anything for me and if I took my sedative medication that day (twice a day).

I believe I became mildly depressed during my stay (naturally who would not), after being forced to take Risperdal (a medication that inhibits serotonin and dopamine - chemicals that the brain naturally makes when it is 'happy'). They asked me multiple times during my stay if I wanted to receive communion (bread), which I denied as I am an atheist. Upon interacting with some of the other patients I realized a number of them were simply elderly and dementia had set in and the younger ones that sought confidence in me claimed were seeing things and I should watch out for these imaginary things. Clearly they either had schizophrenia or were bipolar and did not question their sanity. The doctor that I had was a second rate one at best who saw me once a week for about 10-15 minutes and asked me questions regarding how I was feeling and took my vitals but failed to answer any of my questions as to why I was being held there. Multiple times I would wake up in the middle of the night and be shivering from the cold AC they had on (providing very thin blankets), I was unable to sleep many nights while there. I felt I was being tortured and not treated for anything but nobody would assist me, not even my own brother came to see me while I was there... I believe this experience made me realize that nobody actually cares about me despite what they claim. Without digressing, towards the end of the three weeks I was told I was about to be "released", they gave me a date which was supposedly when I was to leave. However they lied, and kept me for 2-3 additional days. At the end I was given forms by my "social worker" who told me that I had to sign the forms or they would not release me. She told me then that the forms are voluntary forms of my stay there... at this point I knew I had a situation to deal with, either I signed the forms and be released or be held there for even longer. Having no choice I signed the forms and was finally released the following day when my parents came to get me. I don't entirely blame my parents since they are not college educated and don't understand how the US hospital system works as a business rather than to meet the needs of the patient.

I was required to see a psychiatrist for the following month after my release (for obvious legal reasons to protect the hospital from a law suit). I had to go since I was coerced to do so and did not want to end up in a hospital for not following the doctor's order (not recommendation - apparently I have no rights). I went and continued to take the risperdal which I knew was no treating anything since I never in my life have seen or heard anything that was not there or had any manic bipolar tendencies. Eventually I stopped and told the doctor what I have been telling him since I was admitted and he said that fine he will wean me off the medication. I stopped taking it and began to think more clearly and for the past 9 months have been feeling fine despite my concerns as to what permanent damage/changes these untested drugs have done to my brain.

Well not surprisingly a week ago I received a mailed statement from the hospital and my insurance company for my 3 week admittance totaling over $5,000. My insurance payed out a little over $50,000 to the hospital already and they expect me to pay the remained of over $5000 for the stay plus the additional visits thereafter. Up to this point I had put all of this behind me and did not want to even recollect the traumatizing memories and experiences I underwent at the hospital and having to take drugs for a concocted condition which was nonexistent. I have not been told why I was admitted or had to take the medication although doing research online I found out risperdal is for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder which I have neither of (and multiple doctors can attest to this as I am sure of).

So here I am... what can I do when nobody cares or will help me? I do not have a ton of money to hire a top notch lawyer to take on a hospital (I doubt anyone does these days). I am considering sending a formal electronic request for the hospital to release to me all my medical records of my stay there including the charges and reasons behind my treatment and release and then take these findings to my health insurance provider who I assume will help me in order to recover some of their lost money? I am having doubts and believe that the insurance company might just decide to pay off the $50,000 and not want to fight a fraud case against a hospital leaving me on my own to hire an attorney. If you have read all this thank you for your support it means a lot.
 
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 12:48 am
@inquiz85,
Sorry I could not read it all. Very long and wordy.
Talk to an attorney. Consultations are generally free. If one takes your case, it will be with the understanding that he or she gets paid only if you win.
It's worth a try.
contrex
 
  4  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 03:01 am
Lots of crazy people are very plausible right up to the moment they bury an ice pick in your head because they found out you are an alien lizard. We don't know this person. Some of the post hints at paranoid schizophrenia.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 08:34 am
I thought that in the US in general (perhaps I'm incorrect) that people could be put on a three day psychiatric hold, but further than that there had to be a commitment court procedure. I don't know if that prevails now as it used to; I don't know the conditions for it to go to court.

We can't know from here if our poster had 'danger to himself or others' type symptoms that led to this. I'd agree with the suggestion that inquiz consult with an attorney (an appropriate one, re med malpractice) and that to ask if an initial consult would be free. I'd also consult with his regular doctor if he has had one.

Lustig Andrei
 
  2  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 09:25 am
@contrex,
contrex wrote:

Lots of crazy people are very plausible right up to the moment they bury an ice pick in your head because they found out you are an alien lizard. We don't know this person. Some of the post hints at paranoid schizophrenia.



Absolutely true. Obviously, the o.p. does not tell the full story.
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 09:41 am
@ossobuco,
Over here it's called sectioning.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  4  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 10:37 am
He needs a lawyer to advise him if he really needed to be there and to help determine if he truly owes the money. No one reading here can know for sure what is going on.
0 Replies
 
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 03:06 pm
@contrex,
I'll be sure not to arrange a personal meeting
0 Replies
 
firefly
 
  2  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 05:39 pm
@inquiz85,
What you are describing is neither malpractice nor negligence.

You are claiming you were denied your legal rights as a psychiatric inpatient in NYS. Mainly by being denied information about your status as a patient (voluntary/involuntary), what you were being treated for, what your treatment plan was, the purpose of the medication you were given, etc.
https://www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/patientrights/inpatient_rts.htm

Quite honestly, I have difficulty believing the accuracy of your account.

For instance, you say there was a statement posted on the wall explaining your legal rights as a psychiatric patient, those statements include a phone number to call the Mental Hygiene Legal Services about any issues related to your hospitalization, and there was a pay phone on the unit, and you had quarters to use the phone. Why didn't you call them? You were not prevented from doing that. The MHLS would have advised you of why you were admitted, your status as a patient, your right to refuse medication, your right to request a court hearing, how to request your release, etc.

You definitely did have legal rights while hospitalized--either you chose not to take advantage of them, or your psychiatric condition at the time may have interfered with your ability to do so. Those statements are posted on the walls of inpatient psych units for a reason--they want patients to use the information, they want patients to call the MHLS if they have questions, or problems, or require legal assistance.

Were you court-ordered to go for outpatient treatment after your discharge? How did anyone "coerce" you to do this? Did you ask that psychiatrist what you were being treated for?

Have you asked the relative who took you to the ER why he/she did so? How were you acting that made someone think you needed to be seen in an ER? Do you have any prior history of psych hospitalization or psych treatment? Any history of alcohol or drug abuse?

Truthfully, I think you likely were suffering from some psychiatric condition that did require inpatient treatment but you seem to have no insight or understanding of what that might be. It's better that you do find out what you were being treated for since many conditions can be recurrent.

The easiest thing to do is to either call or pay a visit to the psychiatrist you saw after your discharge--who apparently treated you during your hospital stay as well--and ask him why you were hospitalized, what you were treated for, what your symptoms were, and what your discharge diagnosis was. Just accept whatever he says, without arguing about it or questioning it--just get the information. And then just think about it.

You might also want to discuss what the psychiatrist tells you with your family--again without arguing about it. I think you need to be open to the possibility that your hospitalization was necessary and justified, and that your memory and perception of events might not be accurate.

If, after getting information from the psychiatrist, and discussing it with your family, you still really think the hospital violated the Mental Hygiene laws, and your rights as a patient, during your hospital stay--which I don't think was likely--find the appropriate MHLS office that covers the county for the hospital you were in, from the list on this page, and contact them regarding your complaints.
http://www.mhanys.org/publications/factsheets/fscompliants.htm

The situation you describe is not malpractice. It is about issues related to the legal rights of psychiatric inpatients.

The hospital will not send you your medical records--don't bother to ask.

Do not try to involve the insurance carrier in any of this--it is not their concern.

You may have to pay that $5000--the services were delivered, there is no issue of fraud--unless you can work out a lower amount with the billing department of the hospital. I wouldn't count on that, but it might be worth a try.

Good luck


0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 05:53 pm
So, the non agitated person will work all that out.

That's a cover notice in my opinion, as even if people can read it, can they just stand up and argue in place?
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 06:00 pm
@ossobuco,
My father was in Camarillo (bad old days) at one point and I had a role in putting him there in my fear of his suicide, calling for help to the telephone operator, this decades and decades ago. It's to my long sorrow.

I'm invested in the argument. I understand the many ways I was wrong then.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 06:14 pm
@ossobuco,
I'm not arguing, one way or another, that this poster somehow may be slipping over difficulties with quite good writing. Listening.



0 Replies
 
firefly
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 07:20 pm
@ossobuco,
Quote:

That's a cover notice in my opinion, as even if people can read it, can they just stand up and argue in place?

What's a "cover notice"--the statement on the psych unit wall about the Mental Health Legal Services?

It's not at all a mere formality, the business of depriving someone of their liberty and treating them on an involuntary basis is taken very seriously in NYS--and the rights of such psychiatric inpatients are very carefully protected in all sorts of ways. If you call the MHLS with problems or complaints, they send a lawyer to the psych unit to talk to you and to the staff--they do the arguing and advocacy for the patient. And they will get patient's rights problems corrected, and patient's questions answered, and they can, and do, also assist patients in arranging for court hearings to try to get released.

inquiz85 may well have been visited by a lawyer from MHLS quite soon after admission--and might not remember--just to advise him/her of legal rights. Even in the ER he/she should have been given a form advising him of his involuntary status and rights--if in fact he/she was admitted involuntarily. He/she might have signed a voluntary admission form in the ER without realizing it. An involuntary admission in NYS requires that two physicians, and someone the patient knows, all agree that hospitalization is necessary for psychiatric treatment--someone can be involuntarily hospitalized for up to 60 days on that 2 pc admission. An emergency admission--because of danger to self or others--can only be for up to 15 days. inquiz85 was likely admitted on a 2 pc, judging by the length of stay.

The hospital has no logical reason to refuse to answer a patient's questions about why they were admitted or what they're being treated for--because they want patient compliance, they answer such questions--they are also legally obligated to answer such questions--and they are very careful about not violating Mental Health laws, or violating patient rights, because they are monitored by MHLS.

inquiz85 never contacted MHLS--even though he/she was aware of the notice on the unit wall.

At any time, inquiz85 could have refused medication, or put such a refusal in writing, and it would have simply been entered in the chart and no medication would have been forced on him/her. Only when a patient is extremely agitated, or aggressive, and in immediate danger of harming themselves or a staff member, can an emergency dose of medication be forced on someone. Otherwise a patient can refuse treatment.

inquiz85 was not "held captive" in that hospital--he/she had access to a MHS lawyer any time he/she wanted to pick up the pay phone to call one. That's who protects patient rights.

inquiz85's version of events in the hospital doesn't make sense to me--nor does his assertion that he was "coerced" into outpatient treatment, since only a court could do that, and he/she would have appeared in court if that was the case. And, in the past 9 months, he/she has had time to speak with the outpatient psychiatrist, as well as family members, about why that hospitalization was necessary. The professed cluelessness, even now, doesn't make sense. I also think his/her memory and perception of what occurred during the hospital stay may be faulty--possibly due to the psychiatric condition that necessitated the hospitalization.

Truthfully, I think inquiz85 is trying to find a way to get out of paying that $5000 bill. But this is not a malpractice case.

In any event, I think I've given inquiz85 enough info on how to get his admission and treatment and diagnosis questions answered, and how to reach MHLS to discuss his complaints about the hospital with them, if he/she chooses to do so.

ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 08:08 pm
@firefly,
I haven't read the rest of your post but will, and, who knows, I may agree, but if you are a new patient, that announcement thing on the wall is just more horrible noise from authorities who are locking you up, as it passes before your eyes.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 08:15 pm
@ossobuco,
Back in my landscape architecture days, a colleague taught some course that involved grasping the problems people have getting around, and had the students try to get around the campus in wheel chairs and get into buildings. Big campus.(Hi, Mike).

The same thing needs to happen re flinging people into hospitalization for mental disorders. This fellow may have really needed it. Having him read some signs on the wall to argue?
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 08:39 pm
@ossobuco,
Now I read the rest of it and am assuming you are spot on with all of it.
Sort of.
0 Replies
 
Romeo Fabulini
 
  2  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 09:01 pm
Quote:
Inquiz said: I was taken to the hospital by a close relative (not immediate family) where I was told they needed help with something (which was a lie).

Slow down, your post was a bit long so tell us if you're male or female and how old you are.
And why do you think your relative took you to hospital, were you acting crazy or something, or were you high on drugs?
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 09:28 pm
@Romeo Fabulini,
good question
0 Replies
 
firefly
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 09:51 pm
@ossobuco,
Quote:
The same thing needs to happen re flinging people into hospitalization for mental disorders. This fellow may have really needed it. Having him read some signs on the wall to argue?

The signs aren't at all hard to understand, it's mainly how to contact the MHLS. And he most likely was also visited by a MHS lawyer soon after his admission to explain his rights to him.

I understand what you're saying, osso, but most patients understand those signs on the wall, and how to get in touch with a MHS lawyer--or the staff or other patients will tell them how--and inquiz85 should have also received a form with that info on it when admitted. This isn't info that's kept at all secret or that they don't want patients to know. inquiz85 wanted the nurse to get him a lawyer, that she can't do, but he could have called the MHLS himself, or his family could have (although they wanted him there), and, if the pay-phone wasn't working, or he lacked money to use it, he could have asked the social worker to arrange a call to MHLS on the hospital's phone, and they really would have to do that if he had no other way of contacting MHLS--they really can't, and don't. deprive psychiatric inpatients of their legal rights, and they have a right to contact MHLS.

He might not have understood why he was there, although I doubt that everyone on the staff deliberately kept him in the dark about that, but it shouldn't have surprised him that the unit was locked, and that he couldn't open a window to get fresh air, or that he couldn't have a cell phone, or that he had to eat hospital food while there. Even those who've never been in an inpatient psych unit know those are all typical conditions you find in one--and the reasons for those conditions are fairly obvious--they don't want patients to get out.

I seem to recall that there was some research done, a long, long, long time ago, on the best design plans for psych units--how to make them more appealing, less threatening or frightening looking, etc.

Anyway, inquiz85 is asserting he was the victim of a massive conspiracy--that included his family, the ER staff, and the entire staff of the psych inpatient service, to hold him captive in that hospital, and treat him for a non-existent psychiatric problem, ostensibly just to make money for the hospital. So what was the alleged motive of the relative who took him to the ER? And what was it his family thought he "needed help" with? And how was he "coerced" to see the outpatient psychiatrist?

I really do think he likely needed to be in the hospital. And I think the staff and doctors may have gotten tired of telling him why he was there, since it sounds like he may have been constantly insisting or arguing with them that he didn't need to be there, and they just got tired of explaining it to him after awhile.

And it's clear he had no interest, even after his discharge, in trying to really understand why he had been hospitalized--or what symptoms he had displayed at that time--that made not only the psychiatrists, psychologists, social worker, and nurses, think he needed to be there, but his own family as well.

These issues suddenly surfaced now only because he got a $5000 bill he really doesn't want to pay. He seems to have come up with the idea of a malpractice suit as a way of trying to get out of paying it. But this isn't a malpractice issue. He really doesn't even have an issue that he was unduly deprived of his rights as a psych inpatient--no one kept knowledge of those rights from him, no one stopped him from calling MHLS, no medication was "forced" on him, no one stopped him from doing anything but leaving the unit, and had he put in writing a request/demand to be discharged, they would have had to take him before a judge for a hearing.

Unless he can work out something with the hospital billing department to settle for less than the $5000, given his limited resources, he may just have to pay that bill. He has no case for malpractice.




ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2014 10:03 pm
@firefly,
Yeah, and roseate pink walls came into it, or maybe that was just prisons. I once toyed with going into hospital design (that was a no, long past, did equip labs, oh, never mind, I didn't get to paint the walls).

I still think that people taken there, at least for the first time, are frightened out of their gourds even if completely sober.

I assume better places have better modes, probably.

I do see he seemed to block why people said it was to help him, and you are all probably right, but his post was hitchcockian if near true. Which brings up artifice. But so far I take him as him being sincere.
 

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