According to reports, two days ago on January 22, 2014, a 53 year old surgery patient somehow got out of a Beverly Hills clinic and made it to the 15th floor of the medical building. She removed her treatment gown, sat naked on the roof for several hours, and ultimately jumped off the roof to her death. If the reports are true, there should be an investigation of how and why this woman was allowed to leave the doctor’s clinic, especially if she was still recovering from the surgery and still under the effects of anesthesia and painkillers. Some people have reported this as a suicide, but it may be a case of medical malpractice and negligence against her health care providers.

I saw the victim on the roof myself. It was horrific. I took this picture to document the event. Video of the event may be important to rule out suicide and further investigate her state of mind and the effects of any drugs.

I have seen many cases where patients fall or otherwise hurt themselves because the facility, the nurses, and the doctors, do not take the proper precautions to keep patients safe. Patients are often disoriented, confused, and unsafe during treatment and also for several days after a surgery. Patients fall out of beds, or try to walk, before the effects of the anesthesia have worn off. Some patients have temporary major personality changes following anesthesia or when hospitalized. Different patients have different reactions to anesthesia, surgery, and painkillers. The health care providers in charge of these patients must assume the worst and take all reasonable precautions to keep a patient safe, and maybe even keep the patient safe from herself during the recovery period. A simple, easy, and inexpensive method for protection is the bed alarm for example. The recovery room bed or hospital bed can be equipped with a weight sensor that detects when a patient gets up out of bed, and then alarms are set off in the patient’s room and at the nurse’s and doctor’s desks and station. This simple precaution has saved many lives and has avoided even more broken bones from falls.

A thorough investigation by an experienced lawyer is necessary, especially because the best witness, the deceased loved one, is obviously unavailable and can’t tell us what happened. I locate and get statements from witnesses, I hire medical experts to review the case, and use private investigators, to find out: “what happened.” I am able to bring some comfort to families by gathering the evidence and proving who and what caused this person’s untimely death.

This victim’s family is entitled to wrongful death damages if her doctors or nurses were negligent. The persons that can sue for wrongful death include a victim’s spouse husband or wife, minor and adult children, parents, minor and adult dependents, and possibly other relatives. California wrongful death laws specify who can sue and what types of financial compensation must be paid to the family. I wrote an article that was published by Super Lawyers just a week ago on this very subject: Who can sue for wrongful death damages in California. See

George Chakmakis, Esq. practices personal injury, medical malpractice, and employment law in Beverly Hills, California. He was named to the 2014 Southern California Super Lawyers’ list for Personal Injury. (310) 550-1555