Families sue after two men commit suicide at Hamilton hospital
St. Joseph's Healthcare in Hamilton as seen through Google Street View (Google Street View/Google)
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, October 30, 2017 1:45PM EDT
HAMILTON -- Family members of two men who took their own lives while allegedly under supervision at a Hamilton hospital are suing the facility's parent organization.
The families of Brandon Taylor and Joel Verge have each filed $8.5 million negligence suits against St. Joseph's Health System.
The lawyer representing the Taylor and Verge families alleges the hospital was aware both men were at risk of trying to take their own lives and had instructed that they be supervised.
Michael Smitiuch says Taylor, who was 29, was admitted to hospital after a drug and alcohol overdose, and was supposed to be checked on every 15 minutes because he was deemed to be at risk of self-harm.
He says Verge, 42, was supposed to be under constant supervision following a previous attempt to take his own life.
But Smitiuch alleges that the supervision plans failed, and both men killed themselves while left alone with items they were allowed to have in their rooms.
The allegations have not been proven in court and St. Joseph's has not yet filed a statement of defence.
But David Higgins, president of St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, said in a written statement that the hospital has already implemented many recommendations made in an external review of suicides at the hospital, and it is committed to completing the rest.
He did not specify which recommendations had been implemented, nor did he comment on any of the allegations against the hospital.
Smitiuch alleges the men are among 11 who took their own lives over the past two years while being treated as in-patients, out-patients and while on day passes at St. Joseph's Health System.
The external review, conducted after the men's deaths, found that nine people had died by suicide in 2016, and Smitiuch says two more have since killed themselves.
According to that review, there is no way to know whether that number is in line with what happens at other hospitals.