Wyoming State Hospital faces wrongful death lawsuit

CHEYENNE — The adoptive brother of a Wyoming State Hospital patient is suing the hospital over the alleged wrongful death of his family member.

The case centers around the death of Robert Anderson, who died in 2015 at the facility in Evanston. Anderson went to the hospital after he pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness to criminal charges, and he was at the hospital for eight months before his death.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court and comes after the Wyoming Supreme Court issued an opinion stating Robert Craft and Sabrina Craft did have grounds to pursue a lawsuit against the hospital.

The lawsuit is seeking damages on several grounds, including pain, suffering and death due to inadequate medical care; failure to monitor medications; failure to provide supervision and adequate training; delay and denial of medical care and more. A jury trial is demanded.

According to court documents:

The Crafts allege that during his stay at the hospital, Anderson was held without a court order for five months between November 2014 and March 2015. In March 2015, a court order was issued to the hospital to restore Anderson’s competency, but the lawsuit alleges Anderson was never seen by a psychiatrist or psychologist.

While he was at the hospital, Anderson was being treated for “serious medical conditions” and was prescribed different types of medications. During his treatment, he complained to doctors about pain in his right arm and body.

When he died, a toxicology report showed he had antidepressants in his body higher than therapeutic doses. The Crafts allege his death was due to the medication he was given at the hospital.

Anderson was admitted to the hospital on Sept. 23, 2014, diagnosed with schizophrenia. The Crafts allege this diagnosis was wrong.

The nurse practitioner at the hospital, James Fleenor, prescribed Anderson Clozapine — an antipsychotic — which was then dispensed by hospital pharmacists. The Clozapine doses were then increased in large increments over a short period of time, the Crafts said, and the dosages were incorrect.

The toxicology report in Anderson’s death showed he had Venlafaxine, an antidepressant, in his system at higher levels than what’s considered therapeutic. In addition to these medications, Anderson was also taking Cogentin, which, when combined with Clozapine, can potentially cause dangerous side effects.

Before he died, Anderson complained to hospital staff about pain in his right arm and other areas of his body. He was never taken to the emergency room, according to the lawsuit. Hospital staff did place an order for a neurological evaluation for Anderson on June 9, 2015.

On June 13, 2015, Anderson was seen getting his lunch from the nurses station around 12:20 p.m. and returning to his room alone. He was found dead around 2 p.m. that day in his room. It’s against hospital rules to allow patients to be left alone to eat because of health risks, according to the lawsuit.


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