Suicide prompts UW Medical Center lawsuit
By AMY ROLPH
The 2005 suicide of a 23-year-old University of Washington student has prompted a lawsuit against the UW Medical Center, alleging the hospital's emergency-room physicians failed to properly treat the admittedly disturbed student.
A friend took the student, identified in court documents as John Hoover, to the hospital's emergency department in May of 2005 after Hoover intentionally cut his wrists with a kitchen knife. When questioned, Hoover repeatedly admitted that he often had thoughts of suicide, specifically " jumping off a high place, like a bridge or a building," according to the complaint filed in King County Superior Court.
"Mr. Hoover also reported that he started Prozac a few days prior, and that he still felt overwhelmed at school, had difficulty sleeping and was having 'trouble focusing,'" an attorney wrote in a 2007 general liability form submitted with the lawsuit.
Hoover's parents, residents of New Hampshire, maintain that UW physicians did not admit him as an inpatient, or contact mental health professionals. He talked with a social worker, but was released late that night with the number of a crisis line and instructions to call the UW's Hall Health at the start of the next work week.
Two days later, Hoover jumped from his 16th-floor office window in the Westin building in downtown Seattle. He died two hours later at Harborview Medical Center.
The complaint was filed earlier this month by an attorney representing Hoover's parents. The lawsuit alleges the student's death was preventable, and that Hoover was not at fault due to his mental condition.
P-I reporter Amy Rolph can be reached at 206-448-8223 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her School Zone blog at blog.seattlepi.com/schoolzone.