Staff Was Inattentive on The Night of Patient Murder at Jessup Psychiatric Hospital, Says Maryland Health Investigators

An investigation by Maryland health investigators into the September 2010 murder of psychiatric patient Susan Sachs by fellow patient El Soudani El-Wahhabi at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center has revealed that employees at the maximum-security psychiatric facility may have inattentive and sleeping on the job that night. El-Wahhabi, who has admitted to strangling and kissing the 45-year-old victim, is charged with Sachs’ murder.

As the murder was taking place, video surveillance shows one hospital staffer sitting on a couch from where there was no view of the patients’ rooms. Another worker, who was at the nursing station, exhibited no signs of movement.

Among the report’s findings:

• The door-locking system to the ward was not activated, which means that on the night of September 25, 2010, the doors to patients’ rooms were unlocked for most of the night. This allowed El-Wahhabi to enter Sachs’ room undetected and without permission.

• After 9:15pm that night, the workers stopped conducting half-hour checks on the patients. They filled out forms to make it appear as if the checks had occurred.

• Video footage shows two of the hospital workers watching TV and sleeping a few hours before Sachs was murdered.

Remedies to such lax behavior at the hospital have reportedly been implemented since then. However, advocates continue to criticize the hospital for not doing enough to protect patients—especially women—from becoming the victim of assault. Meantime, Sheilah Davenport, the hospital’s chief executive, is to step down at the end of the month.

Maryland Medical Negligence

Hospitals and nursing homes can be held liable for Jessup County medical malpractice or nursing home negligence if poor quality care or inadequate security allowed a patient to become a victim of a crime. Sexual assault, physical assault, patient abuse, and patient violence are serious problems that occur in facilities throughout the US. There must be preventive measures and administrative procedures in place to so that such tragic incidents stop happening.

Report: State hospital staff sleeping, watching TV after woman strangled,, February 16, 2011
Staff at hospital partly criticized in patient killing, Baltimore Sun, February 11, 2011
Related Web Resources:

Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center

Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

More Maryland Accident Law Blog Posts:
Maryland Mental Hospital Patient Charged with Murder of Fellow Patient, Maryland Accident Law Blog, September 27, 2010
Maryland Medical Malpractice and Fraud Alleged in 101 Claims Against Towson Hospital, Maryland Accident Law Blog, October 16, 2010
Baltimore County Wrongful Death Lawsuit Accuses Westminster Assisted Living Facility of Maryland Nursing Home Neglect, Maryland Accident Law Blog, April 28, 2010

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