Thursday, October 14, 2010
7 News Investigations: A Sister's Sorrow
Tonight, the state is investigating a local hospital in connection with the death of a former patient. His family thinks he should not have been discharged. The hospital says it was following the law. Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero has this special assignment report: "A Sister's Sorrow."
WSVN -- When Patricia Taime thinks about her younger brother Michael, she remembers a kind, loving man.
Patricia Taime: "He was just a very friendly, very loving, big mush."
But Michael was a troubled soul with a history of mental illness.
Patricia Taime: "Hearing of voices, the hallucinations. It was very difficult, because there were times that we couldn't help him."
Patricia wants to remember Michael's happier moments.
Patricia Taime: "He always wanted to celebrate everything: celebrate a party, celebrate a birthday."
But for Michael, his 45th birthday was his last.
Carmel Cafiero: "Michael died here in a parking lot off Commercial Boulevard. He had threatened to kill himself with an overdose of pills, and his family thinks that's exactly what happened."
Michael had been discharged by Imperial Point Medical Center just 12 hours before his body was found, discharged without his sister or mother knowing about it.
Patricia Taime: "My mom had to get a phone call at work from the homicide detective telling her that her son was found dead in the street."
Michael was taken to Imperial Point against his will. He was Baker-acted, a legal way to admit patients who may be a danger to themselves or others. In this case, Michael threatened suicide.
Patricia Taime: "He even went to tell them how he would kill himself."
Michael did later deny suicidal intentions. He was treated for 13 days and then discharged.
Patricia Taime: "What we as a family would like to know is how they released my brother to the streets in the condition that he was."
Broward's medical examiner says Michael died of "combined drug intoxication." It has not been determined yet if it was suicide or an accident.
Michael's discharge records fuel the family's concern. One entry reads, he would be sent home by taxi. Another indicates he was discharged with a family member.
Patricia Taime: "No one from the hospital contacted us."
And no one is sure at this point how he ended up dead in that parking lot.
Broward Health operates Imperial Point. It turned down our request for an on-camera interview but in a statement told 7 News: "Mr. Taime was an adult patient with no spouse and no dependents. As his condition stabilized, he was deemed by his physician to be competent and able to make his own decisions about involvement of other family members in his care and discharge plan. He chose not to involve his family members. It is our legal obligation to abide by the privacy wishes of our patients."
The hospital adds, he had responded to treatment and did not show any intent to harm himself.
Mark Riordan, Department of Children and Families: "We have an investigation going on into the death."
Mark Riordan is a spokesman for the Department of Children and Families.
Mark Riordan: "We have a review going on with hospital, their procedures. Was it abandonment or inadequate supervision or neglect that led to his death."
Carmel Cafiero: "And you don't know that at this point?"
Mark Riordan: "We do not."
Carmel Cafiero: "Patricia says she won't rest until the questions surrounding her brother's death are answered."