A Bothell mother is suing Harborview Medical Center for its part in her daughter’s suicide last year.
Tina Nguyen’s attorneys filed the lawsuit March 12 against the hospital and staff involved, the University of Washington’s medical physicians and the state of Washington. Jean Magladry and Dianna Caley with Diana Caley, PLLC are representing the plaintiff.
Nguyen alleges the defendants failed to protect her daughter, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, when she was admitted to Harborview on Feb. 13, 2017 for mental health issues and suicidal ideation. Nguyen claims they were negligent when they allowed her 27-year-old daughter, Michelle Tran, to “walk out the door of a ‘secure’ Harborview facility where she was being held for observation” the next day. Just the day before, Tran had needed to be placed in safety restraints.
But later that night, after police got involved and filed a missing person’s report in which they noted there was “no emergent condition,” Tran committed suicide.
An officer was dispatched to Lake Union’s waterfront and found Tran holding on to a piling, a post installed to support a foundation of a structure. The officer questioned if she was OK and she said she was, but undressed and swam out into the water. The officer told a bystander to call 911 but it was too late. She had swam about 40-60 feet away from the dock before she stopped swimming and sank below.
Divers rescued her but she had been under water for 17 minutes. She was transported to Harborview but the damage to her lungs was severe and she died an hour after she was admitted to the trauma ward.
Nguyen’s attorneys argue that because of Tran’s developmental disabilities, which had been well-documented in her medical history, she was considered a vulnerable adult as defined by state law. Because of this, the attorneys claim Harborview had a duty to safeguard her from “foreseeable consequences of her developmental disabilities.”
“Defendant Harborview breached these duties by failing to take reasonable precautions to protect Michelle Tran and safeguard her from the foreseeable consequences of her disabilities and schizophrenia,” the lawsuit states.
The hospital and staff were negligent, the lawsuit continues, when they allegedly failed to supervise and monitor Tran, “allowing her to leave the locked facility that ultimately resulted in her death.”
The plaintiff also claims the defendants violated U.S. laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Nguyen is seeking damages and other fees to be determined in a settlement or at trial.
Harborview has not yet responded to the lawsuit’s claims.