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Family of Clark University Professor Question Whether Massachusetts Hospital’s Alleged Negligence Led to Suicide

In Massachusetts, the family of Winston Napier, a 55-year-old Clark University Professor that committed suicide inside his St. Vincent Hospital room last month, is wondering why he wasn’t under close watch even after he had threatened to commit suicide.

Worcester police are also wondering why they were never told of his death. The police and the Worcester district attorney’s office have subpoenaed the hospital for Napier’s medical records. According to Massachusetts law, police must be informed of any deaths that occur in any city, even if suicide is the cause of death.

On May 12, Clark University Police Chief Stephen Goulet contacted Worcester police and asked them to check on Napier. Police found Napier at his apartment. He was unable to answer the door and he appeared “confused.”

He was transported to St. Vincent Hospital and a CT scan was performed. Napier was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma and underwent emergency surgery. His family believes the injury occurred several weeks prior when he was struck by a pizza delivery door while riding a bicycle. The impact caused him to hit the door and fall onto the floor. The pizza delivery driver did not see Napier as he opened the door.

Following the emergency surgery, a nurse at St. Vincent Hospital said Napier’s behavior appeared off. He reportedly made a suicidal gesture with a knife on May 15 and was placed under 24-hour observation. A psychiatric evaluation was ordered.

The family claims that the evaluation never took place and Napier was taken off the watch. ON May 16, Napier hung himself from the shower. He was then reportedly resuscitated and placed on a breathing machine. He was declared dead on May 18.

The hospital says that they notified the medical examiner and the Department of Public Health. Police say they cannot properly investigate the death scene because Napier was removed from the scene and his room had been cleaned.

Medical care providers are supposed to ensure that hospital patients get the proper medical care and attention. Failure to provide that care can be grounds fora medical malpractice claim or lawsuit.

Clark professor’s death probed, Telegram.com, June 2, 2008
Clark mourning the loss of popular scholar, Telegram.com June 1, 2008

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Winston Napier

If you believe that you were injured or your loved one died because of the negligence of a hospital or another health care provider, our Boston, Massachusetts medical malpractice attorneys can explore the details of your case with you. In some instances, it can take weeks to realize that you have a traumatic brain injury or another serious injury from an accident-we can investigate your case and determine liability. Contact Altman & Altman LLP today.