State Faults UCI Medical Center in Patient Death
The Department of Health Services on Thursday issued a report criticizing the University of California-Irvine Medical Center for failing to properly monitor a psychiatric patient after he was prescribed a medication known to increase thoughts of suicide, the Los Angeles Times reports. The 18-year-old patient committed suicide in December 2005 while he was admitted at the hospital.
According to the report, the patient was prescribed the antidepressant Zoloft and Strattera, a medication used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- a condition the patient did not have. UCI requires approval from a supervising pharmacist to prescribe a treatment for a condition for which FDA has not approved the drug. The DHS report found no evidence that a form seeking approval was submitted.
In addition, hospital personnel did not monitor the patient according to recommendations for suicidal patients, the report found.
The report noted that the hospital had not installed "breakaway" bathroom fixtures to reduce suicide risks, the Times reports. The patient hanged himself from a bathroom towel rack.
Hospital officials in a statement said they were reviewing the state report and would consider "what corrective action, if any, might be appropriate" (Rivenburg, Los Angeles Times, 3/17).