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Family Awarded $10 Million for Medical Malpractice After Patient Suicide

A jury in Staten Island has awarded $10 million to the plaintiffs in a medical malpractice case. The judgement goes to the family of a man who committed suicide six years ago after a physician allegedly failed to properly diagnose and treat his severe anxiety and depression.

The patient was 48-year-old Richard Shouldis, who reported worsening symptoms of depression, fatigue, anxiety, concentration loss, panic attacks and weight loss to Dr. Theodore Strange. He committed suicide several days after making these reports, according to the family’s attorney.

Strange prescribed anti-depression, anti-anxiety and sleeping medicine, but according to the lawsuit, did not “properly recognize and evaluate” the self-destructive and depressed state of the patient. According to the family, Shouldis was in such a disturbed condition that Strange should have known he needed to go to the hospital or see a psychiatrist immediately. In failing to take action, the family claims the doctor allowed Shouldis’s condition to deteriorate to the point that he became suicidal.

The jury ultimately agreed with the plaintiffs. The defendant is expected to appeal.

Malpractice can occur in mental health settings

This case is just the latest reminder that malpractice does not only occur in traditional medicine involving injuries and physical health conditions. It also occurs in mental health situations. In some cases, doctors may be held liable for a person’s suicide if they failed to provide proper care or make the correct diagnosis for depression and other mental health conditions.

For further guidance on medical malpractice, contact an experienced attorney with Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP.