The Law Offices of JM Reinan, PC has filed another case against the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (“CMHIP”), this time on behalf of the Estate of Edward Benge and Mr. Benge’s father. Other Defendants in the lawsuit include the Colorado Department of Human Services (“CDHS”), which administers CMHIP, as well as the former Superintendent of CMHIP and the individuals responsible for Mr. Benge’s care, treatment and safety while he was a patient there.
Edward Benge committed suicide at CMHIP in September 2010. The suit alleges, in part based on investigations at CMHIP into Mr. Benge’s and other patients’ suicides and deaths around the same time, that known, uncorrected poor conditions at CMHIP led to Mr. Benge’s preventable death. Among other things, the suit alleges that the hospital “was in disarray from the top down, with chronically short staffing, poor staff morale and an abject absence of a reasonable and proper system of suicide prevention and training.” The suit further alleges that CMHIP lacked appropriate policies and procedures, and failed to properly train its staff.
The suit cites to an investigation into Mr. Benge’s death at CMHIP conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (“CDPHE”). In its investigation, the CDPHE concluded that “the facility failed to ensure patient safety was maintained with accountability rounds, safety searches, reliable door locks/hardware, control of linen and patient belongings, adequate nursing staff and adequate supervisory staff. Deficient practice was cited.”
The lawsuit also references a November Audit of CMHIP published on November 15, 2010 on CDHS letterhead, which concluded, among other things, that the unit at CMHIP on which Ed Benge resided suffered from huge deficits in resources and staffing; admitted more patients than it was equipped to handle; lacked proper staff training on patient care and security systems; and lacked sufficient numbers of psychologists and psychiatrists.
The suit further alleges that although Mr. Benge exhibited clear suicidal ideations and behaviors, proper suicide precautions were not undertaken.
The suit alleges that these failures and uncorrected poor conditions and staffing deficits amount to civil rights violations, and further seeks injunctive and declaratory relief from the court.
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