Death of Psychiatric Patient at Florida Facility Leads to Lawsuit


From the Hartford Courant: In 2011, Melinda Jakobowski, a psychiatric patient at the Florida Institute of Neurologic Rehabilitation, died from a sudden heart failure after hospital staff members failed to notice her stop breathing or perform CPR. This month, her family filed a $1 million wrongful-death lawsuit against the state agency that placed her at the institute.

“The institute sits on 900 acres in rural Wauchula and is the area’s largest employer. Its main business is to treat and rehabilitate people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, but it also accepts patients with psychiatric illnesses and developmental disabilities that state agencies find too difficult to handle.

Its history includes a bankruptcy, a multimillion settlement with All-State which had alleged negligent treatment of a group of brain-injured patients from Michigan, several dozen verified cases of patient abuse, a $5 million jury award in 2005 to a patient’s family in another wrongful-death case, and the videotaped maltreatment of a young Connecticut client with developmental disabilities, which resulted in the criminal arrests of two institute staff members.”

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