Report from Disability Law Center Finds Abuse and Neglect in Death of Woman Discharged from Hospital and Left on Boston Streets 

Attorney Robert Higgins

Lubin & Meyer medical malpractice attorney Robert M. Higgins has filed a lawsuit in Worcester Superior Court seeking damages related to the death of CaSonya King, a mental health patient who died in 2018 shortly after she was improperly discharged from the hospital where she was being treated. Named in the complaint are High Point Hospital, CVS, the attending physician and a social worker at the hospital. 

In an exposé by Shira Schoenberg, for CommonWealth Magazine, Attorney Higgins, who represents CaSonya’s mother Angela King in the civil action, said,

“They essentially decided they didn’t want to have her anymore, and they decided to dump her at a shelter. She had mental health issues, she needed help. She didn’t need to be dumped on the streets near the Pine Street Inn to fend for herself.” 

— Robert Higgins, Medical Malpractice Attorney

 

A report released on June 8, 2021 by the Disability Law Center (DLC),  the federally mandated protection and advocacy agency for Massachusetts, criticizes the Department of Mental Health (DMH), which licensed High Point Hospital, for its failure to get answers to critical questions about the incident:
  • Why was CaSonya King discharged in a deeply disoriented state? 
  • Why was she discharged to the street and against her will without adequate supports? 
  • Why couldn’t the hospital wait until a placement with adequate supports could be arranged, especially since CaSonya King did not wish to be discharged to a shelter or to the street? 
  • Why was she brought from Middleborough to Boston, 39 miles away, a community where she had no meaningful supports? 
  • Where exactly was CaSonya King left and why did she never make it inside the homeless shelter? 
In announcing the report, DLC stated:

The report, “Out of Time: The Tragic Death of CaSonya King and the Practice of Patient Dumping” is available on the DLC website. It contains a detailed analysis of hospital medical records, DMH investigative records, and legal records, along with photographs, tables and additional graphic material, and information gathered from interviews and fact investigation. The report also describes CaSonya’s death against the backdrop of so-called “patient dumping” incidents across the country. Following its investigation, undertaken as the designated Protection and Advocacy (“P&A”) system for the Commonwealth, DLC finds that the actions of High Point Hospital, in discharging CaSonya King without a meaningful and effective discharge plan, constituted neglect and a dangerous practice that contributed to CaSonya King’s tragic death. 

 

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