Medical Malpractice Suit Against a Psychiatrist for Discharging a Patient from Psychiatric Ward

In Peoples Bank v. Damera, 220 Ill. App. 3d 1031, 581 N.E.2d 426, 163 Ill. Dec. 475 (1991), plaintiff alleged that the defendant psychiatrist was guilty of medical malpractice for discharging decedent from the psychiatric ward of a hospital and also for giving him a two-week supply of prescription medicine. After being discharged, decedent ingested all of the prescription drugs that he had been given with a bottle of wine and died as a result. The injury for which plaintiff sought recovery was the death of decedent. In Damera the court gave jury instruction IPI Civil 2d No. 105.08 (2d ed. 1971), as modified, which stated: "A patient is required to follow reasonable advice as to treatment. In addition, he must follow the doctor's instructions. A doctor is not liable for the consequences of the patient's failure to do so, unless you find that the patient was unable by reason of mental impairment to follow the doctor's instructions." Damera, 220 Ill. App. 3d at 1033. Damera held: "When the only issue before the jury is defendant's liability, the court should not give IPI Civil 2d No. 105.08 because it concerns only the mitigation of damages assessed against defendant due to the comparative negligence of plaintiff. IPI Civil 2d No. 105.08 does not apply unless the jury is called upon to determine the relative percentages of negligence of both parties. The present case does not involve comparative negligence. Accordingly, we hold that the trial court erred in giving the jury IPI Civil 2d No. 105.08 as modified, because it addressed the issue of plaintiff's decedent's comparative negligence." Damera, 220 Ill. App. 3d at 1034. The Damera case concluded that the jury instructions skewed the jury's focus from the conduct of the defendant physician to the conduct of the suicidal patient. Damera, 220 Ill. App. 3d at 1035. The court disagreed that the decedent's ability to follow instructions was a key issue in this case. Damera, 220 Ill. App. 3d at 1035. It held that the issue was totally irrelevant and that the instruction provided defendant with a complete affirmative defense premised upon an irrelevant issue. Damera, 220 Ill. App. 3d at 1035. The court held that the trial court's error in giving the instruction prejudiced plaintiff and required a new trial. Damera, 220 Ill. App. 3d at 1035.