McKEESPORT (KDKA) – A patient with mental illness was found dead at a local hospital.
Police know how she died, but question why it took so long for anyone to find out and whether her death could have been prevented in the first place.
It happened late at night Aug. 21 at UPMC McKeesport. Police say a female patient checked in at the behavioral unit with a history of mental illness and committed suicide.
Sources close to the investigation say the woman likely found a garbage bag from somewhere in the facility and put it over her head, dying from suffocation.
Sources also say hospital staff did not check her room and did not find her body for at least two hours.
Hospital policy varies, depending on the patient and the seriousness of their condition, but police believe there is no way a patient with mental illness was supposed to be left alone for two hours or more.
County Police are looking at the possibility of the violation of several hospital protocols. They also plan to forward the results of the case to the district attorney’s office.
The DA will determine if there is enough evidence to pursue criminal charges. But sources close to the investigation call criminal negligence charges unlikely.
Paul Woods with UPMC says they are not allowed to discuss the case due to law that protects all cases — especially patients with mental illness.
Wood did acknowledge there is an investigation and says they take any allegations of this sort seriously.
KDKA was also told that a McKeesport Police officer at the hospital immediately reported the incident to County Police.