Family alleges hospital staff ate potluck lunch as man died by suicide
Published Friday, May 22, 2015 8:53AM EDT
The family of a young Brampton man who died by suicide in the psychiatric unit at an Ontario hospital last year, is still demanding an inquest into the death, alleging that hospital staff were having a potluck party while the man died.
The family of Prashant Tiwari is planning to hold a news conference Friday, to explain changes they've made to the $12.5 million wrongful death lawsuit they filed against the hospital and its staff in February.
Prashant Tiwari was 20 when he was admitted to hospital last June, after struggling with suicidal thoughts and attempting to cut himself with a knife. He was placed under suicide watch, but 10 days later, was found dead in the shower area of the hospital. He had hung himself with the help of a chair.
The family sued, alleging Tiwari was not properly supervised by hospital staff. The family's lawyer, Michael Smitiuch, says that suit was recently amended.
"The statement of claim was amended to make the allegation that while they were supposed to be supervising Preshant, there was a potluck party going on," Smitiuch told CTV's Canada AM ahead of the news conference.
Along with the wrongful death allegations, the lawsuit claims that Tiwari's privacy was breached after his death, when staff accessed his personal information without authorization.
None of the allegations have been proven in court. The William Osler Health System, which governs Brampton Civic Hospital, has not filed a statement of defence.
Smitiuch says the family is exploring the possibility of having criminal charges laid and is also still demanding that the province's chief coroner order an inquest into Tiwari's death.
The province's chief coroner said in a statement to CTV News that the request for an inquest was considered, but denied.
"Dr. (Dirk) Huyer, Chief Coroner for Ontario, considered the request for an inquest into the death of Mr. Tiwari and provided a detailed written response to the family. In addition, he also met with the family to review his decision and to clarify any outstanding issue."
But Smitiuch says the family left that meeting unsatisfied.
"After the meeting, the family still had a number of questions, a number of concerns, in particular the denial of the inquest," Smitiuch said.
The Tiwari family is asking for a judicial review of that decision.
He noted that a CTV W5 investigation on in-hospital suicides found there have been approximately 300 deaths over the last 10 years involving suicidal patients who were supposed to be on strict watch; including 98 in Ontario.
"We believe this is a systemic problem. We believe it would serve the public interest to dig deeper into this particular issue," he said.
During the W5 investigation, the Brampton Civic Hospital admitted that proper procedures weren’t followed in Tiwari's care, including leaving him unattended for several hours.
The chief of psychiatry for the William Osler Health Group also told W5 that the chair that Tiwari used should never have been left in a ward designed for suicidal patients.
Prashant’s father, Rakesh Tiwari, says the family is still angry that, after his son was admitted to hospital, doctors stopped communicating with the family, not explaining to them Prashant's diagnosis or treatment plan.
He said he and Prashant's brother are still in shock from his son's death.
"We are still not able to understand what has happened. Every night when I sleep, I think this is some bad dream and in the morning everything will be right," Tiwari said.
He added that he still catches himself sometimes referring to his son in the present tense, forgetting that he is now gone. He said he and his younger son are still trying to cope but "just don't know how to."