Health Law

Jury to Decide Why Sandy Morgan Died, in Jail and Mentally Ill

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If jail authorities had checked her vital signs, they should have known that something was seriously wrong with Sandy Morgan in addition to her obvious mental illness, experts say.

But despite checking her every 15 minutes, as part of a suicide watch, they didn’t realize the Pennsylvania woman needed emergency care until she was virtually brain-dead, according to a magazine-length article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Morgan, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who was not yet 40, had been charged in a relatively minor retail theft, in an apparent effort to help her get the mental health treatment she obviously needed, the newspaper reports. However, no one on the medical staff seems to have recognized her hypothyroidism, which eventually led to her death within a little more than a month of when she entered the Delaware County jail.

Family members, who say they for years had tried to help Morgan, a college graduate who went downhill after her mother died, are now suing the jail medical provider, and a doctor and a hospital that had previously discharged her in an apparent psychotic state, according to the Inquirer.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs contend the facilities should have done more to diagnose and treat Morgan. The facilities say she and her family didn’t do enough to help them help her. Starting next week, a jury will decide who is to blame for Morgan’s death, as a federal court trial of the case begins.

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