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Los Angeles County To Pay Injured Psychiatric Patient $207K

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(credit: istockphoto.com)

(credit: istockphoto.com)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to pay a nearly $207,000 settlement to a psychiatric patient who jumped out of a hospital window and suffered permanent brain injury.

Ramiro Polanco, 38, sued after he took a three-story plunge from Olive View-UCLA Medical Center on September 17, 2008. The suit alleged that the nursing staff at the Sylmar hospital failed to adequately supervise Polanco, who required constant watch after suffering a schizophrenic episode.

Polanco’s attorney, Robert J. McCulloch, said that his client made previous attempts to break the glass window with a chair that day, but nurses assigned to observe him failed to intervene and prevent him from jumping out the window.

A county-employed nursing attendant who first saw Polanco attempt to escape wrote down what happened, but didn’t note in the shift log whether attempts were made to prevent him from trying
again, McCulloch said. Polanco was able to jump out the window later that day while being supervised by a nurse provided by HRN Services, Inc., which is contracted by the county.

McCulloch said a case against HRN Services and that nurse is ongoing.

“Ramiro is not the same person anymore, the brain injury will require 24-hour care for him,” McCulloch said. “He had his life changed forever because of simple errors that should have been
avoided.”

In a corrective action plan, county officials say they have since made the windows “psychiatric safe” with reinforced panes and provided training to nursing staff on assessing patients’ behaviors. The staff also reviewed the shift hand-off communication policy.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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