The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has denied immunity to a drug treatment facility after the death of a patient. A lawsuit was filed over the wrongful death of a patient who went into cardiac arrhythmia while he was receiving voluntary treatment for addiction at the Bowling-Green Brandywine facility.
When admitted, the patient reported to the facility that he had a history of ADHD and bipolar disorder, but that he was not being treated for either of them at that time. The facility placed the patient on a methadone taper. A lawsuit was filed by the victim’s surviving family members, but the defense claimed partial immunity under the Mental Health Procedures Act, which establishes procedures and rights for the involuntary treatment of patients who are mentally ill.
The trial court and the Superior Court that heard the case granted partial immunity to the facility, which led to the family appealing the decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Dean v. Bowling Green-Brandywine.
The Supreme Court’s Decision
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued a ruling on February 19, 2020, that denied the application of immunity under MHPA to the treatment facility where the victim died. The court issued the ruling, stating that immunity only applies to a facility and its doctors when the treatment aids or promotes relief and recovery from a mental illness.
The court also referred to 55 Pa. Code § 5100.2, which states that dependence on drugs does not mean the person is suffering from a mental illness. Because of this, the Supreme Court said that immunity does not count due to the patient seeking treatment for drug addiction and not for mental illness.
Benefits of appeals in medical malpractice cases
As you can see from the result of this case, having the option to appeal in a medical malpractice case is vital to seeking justice. The appeals process in our court system is in place for a reason; the opinion of a higher court after review of a law or statute can lead to a favorable outcome for your situation. The benefits of appeals in medical malpractice cases include the following:
- Positioning you for a settlement
- Leading to a reversal in the court’s decision
- Holding the defendants responsible for their actions or inaction
- Shedding light on the situation at a state or national level
It is in your best interest to explore all avenues of the justice system when you or a loved one is the victim of medical malpractice.
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