Patient Suicide: Physician Found Negligent for Failing to Address Worsening Depression

April 4, 2014 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​The Florida Second District Court of Appeals found a physician negligent for failing to provide medically appropriate care for a patient who reported significantly worsening symptoms of depression and for failing to evaluate her before she committed suicide. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the physician on the grounds that the physician did not have a duty to prevent the patient's suicide. However, the court of appeals reversed the lower court's ruling and remanded the case to the lower court for further proceedings, concluding that the trial court erred in considering the physician's duty to prevent suicide when it should have determined whether the physician provided reasonable treatment after the patient reported her symptoms. At this time, it is unclear whether the case will go to another jury trial or will be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, where it may set a significant legal precedent for an outpatient physician's responsibility regarding the issue of patient suicide, states a February 24, 2014, article in the Daily Business Review. The 55-year-old patient had a history of depression when she began seeing the physician in 2005.

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