A 61-year-old New Hampshire woman is suing a hospital that detained her against her will for weeks. The woman, who has not revealed her real name, spent 20 days locked up in a wing of an emergency department. The woman is now bringing a federal class-action lawsuit against New Hampshire for not providing her with a hearing about her mental health earlier.
With a nationwide shortage of mental health treatment options and inpatient beds, a mental health crisis is brewing. If you or a loved one has suffered from unlawful detention, the attorneys at Ward law can help. You might be entitled to compensation for your suffering. Contact our Manchester personal injury law firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.
Police Officers Injected the Woman with a Sedative and Took Her to the Hospital
Suffering from anxiety and stress, the woman took a day off from work to recover at home. Her daughter came to her house and was alarmed by her condition. Thinking her mother had a “psychotic break,” they argued, and the daughter called 911. When emergency services arrived, the police found the woman to be behaving in an erratic and agitated way. The police told the woman to go to the hospital, but she refused. The police officers began injecting her with a sedative, and she woke up at St. Joseph Hospital.
She asked to leave the hospital, but the hospital would not release her. An emergency room doctor and her daughter filled out a legal petition saying he was a danger to herself or others due to mental illness. According to New Hampshire law, when these types of petitions are filed, the hospital must transfer the patient to a psychiatric care facility. The law requires that the detained person receive a hearing within three days of the petition.
In this instance, the woman did not receive a hearing because all of the psychiatric facilities within New Hampshire were full at the time. Thus, she could not attend the legally required hearing in which she could plead her case. Hearings can only occur at psychiatric facilities. She repeatedly asked when a bed would open up at a psychiatric hospital only to be told, “We do not know.”
When is a Detention for Mental Illness Unlawful?
The plaintiff, in this case, is now bringing a lawsuit against the state of New Hampshire. She is arguing that New Hampshire violated her civil rights by not providing her with a hearing within three days of her involuntary commitment. She suffered indignities as a result of the 20-day confinement in the ER. She had limited access to visitors, the bathroom, and telephones and had to take notes with coloring paper and a crayon. Her involuntary commitment also caused her mental anguish and stress.
We Can Help
If you have suffered an involuntary commitment for mental illness in New Hampshire, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The state has to follow the procedures outlined in New Hampshire law. Contact our law firm today to learn how we can help.