Family of woman suicide victim sues hospital - abc27 WHTM

Cumberland County

Family of woman who walked out of ER, committed suicide sues hospital

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Susan Martin Susan Martin
Dawn Martin Dawn Martin

The family of a 30-year-old woman who committed suicide after walking out of Holy Spirit Hospital's emergency room last April has filed a civil suit against the Cumberland County medical facility.

Susan Martin of Steelton told abc27 the night her daughter, Dawn Martin, was taken to Holy Spirit by ambulance, she was threatening suicide. Martin said her daughter had locked herself in a bedroom and was trying to jump out of a second floor window. Martin believed it was in her daughter's best interest to obtain professional help, so she called Steelton police.

That decision by Martin turned out to be a fatal move.

She said her daughter was held in an unsecured room for more than an hour without being triaged. Hospital surveillance video allegedly showed Dawn Martin walking out of the ER, still in her hospital gown and without shoes. She left hospital property, laid down on Route 11/15 near the Camp Hill Bypass and rolled herself into oncoming traffic. She was hit by two cars, and died instantly, according to the coroner.

Later in 2012, the state Department of Health cited Holy Spirit for several violations connected to that incident, which the hospital has since corrected.

Martin said the hospital should still be held legally responsible for her daughter's death.

"If I'd thought for one minute that I'd be sending my child to the hospital, to the emergency room -- where you're supposed to go when you need help and it's life and death -- if I would have known I'd be sending my child some place like that, I would have never done it. (I didn't know) it was going to cause her to get killed," Martin said.

Holy Spirit Hospital spokesperson Lori Moran said privacy laws prevent her from commenting on specifics of this case, but issued abc27 a statement.

"Following the death of a patient who left our emergency room last year, we worked closely with the department of health to develop additional protocols and standards for the treatment of behavioral health patients in our care. We remain committed to providing our healthcare providers with the training, education and leadership required to serve this patient population. Quality and patient safety are our highest priorities."

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