The Florida Supreme Court ruled that a Florida man can pursue his medical malpractice lawsuit against his deceased wife’s primary care physician for her suicide in 2008.
The justices ruled unanimously that the case should go to trial, upholding a ruling by the Second District Court of Appeal in 2014, which reversed the decision of the First District Court of Appeals granting summary judgment to the physician.
Justice Patty Quince said in writing the opinion of the court that the duty to prevent inpatient suicide did not apply to the case, but there was still a statutory duty to treat the patient in accordance with the standard of care.
According to the lawsuit, Jacqueline Granicz had been prescribed an antidepressant but had stopped taking it. The day before she died, Granicz called her physician’s office to report that she had stopped taking the medication due to side effects, and that she had not “felt right,” the lawsuit claims. According to court documents, the doctor prescribed a different antidepressant and said Granicz could pick up a sample of the prescription at the office. Granicz did pick the items up, but committed suicide the following day.
The Florida Supreme Court ruled that because Granicz was an outpatient, there was no duty to prevent her suicide, but the nonexistence of that specific duty does not mean the doctor owed the patient no duty. The Court said that the statutory duty to treat the patient in accordance with a standard of care applied, and the foreseeability of Granicz’s suicide was a matter of fact to be decided by the jury.