Family: Doctors were negligent in veteran’s suicide death

When should a medical doctor recognize possible psychiatric problems and recommend that a patient seek appropriate psychiatric treatment? In other words, when is prescribing medication simply not enough?

These are the questions at the heart of a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit being heard in Ohio. Pennsylvania residents with veterans’ health concerns may be interested in the outcome, which is expected soon, now that the decision is in a jury’s hands.

A 25-year-old man’s military service in Iraq left him with physical and mental injuries. He had symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and depression, and in 2009, the young man took his own life.

The soldier’s family filed a lawsuit against two doctors, arguing that while they treated their patient with medication, the doctors were negligent in not recommending proper psychiatric treatment.

As the family’s attorney said his closing arguments, “Health is of mind and body,” and the defendant doctors are accused of failing to treat “half of the equation.”

For their part, the doctors claim that the young man’s suicide was an unpredictable act that the doctors could not have prevented.

It remains to be seen whether the jury agrees.

Failure to diagnose is unfortunately a common medical mistake that leads to irreversible repercussions for Pennsylvania residents every year. In many cases, there is only a small window for quick and appropriate treatment that can save a patient’s life. When doctors fail to diagnose an illness and then fail to recommend the necessary treatment, victims or their families need to be aware of their options for achieving justice.

Source:, “Closing arguments wrap up in veteran malpractice suit,” Lindsay McCoy, Jan. 16, 2014