Recently Discharged Mental Health Patient Allegedly Causes Car Accident

This case study explores a motor vehicle accident allegedly caused by an improperly discharged patient from a mental health institution. It emphasizes the importance of adhering to discharge protocols in mental health units, highlighting the potential consequences when these standards are not met.

ByWendy Ketner, M.D.


Published on March 4, 2024

Car accident

Case Overview

This case study delves into a motor vehicle accident involving three individuals—an adult female, an adult male, and an infant. The alleged perpetrator, recently discharged from an inpatient mental health center, is believed to have caused the accident due to unresolved addiction issues and hallucinations.

The central allegation posits that the individual was improperly discharged, failing to meet the necessary discharge criteria. This case necessitates an expert in hospital administration to scrutinize medical records, provide insights on the standard of care delivered, and elucidate appropriate discharge protocols.

Questions to the Psychiatry expert and their responses


Can you describe your familiarity with discharge protocols for inpatient mental health institutions?

As a triple board-certified professional in General Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatry, and Addiction Medicine, I have extensive experience with discharge protocols from mental health units.

My career includes significant tenure as a medical director on inpatient units, including the last seven years. During this period, I've been actively involved in developing and implementing these procedures.


What are the key criteria a patient must meet to be safely discharged home from inpatient mental health institutions?

Generally speaking, adherence to state law is paramount when discharging patients from mental health units. This typically involves ensuring that the patient does not present an imminent danger to themselves or others due to their mental illness.

About the expert

This expert is a highly experienced professional in psychiatry, with over 15 years of practice. They hold board certifications in Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatry, and Addiction Medicine, underlining their comprehensive knowledge in these areas. Currently serving as the medical director for an acute psychiatric unit, a treatment-resistant depression center, and a clinic specializing in mental health and substance abuse disorders, this expert's extensive experience and active involvement in several professional societies make them particularly suited to provide insights on this case involving discharge protocols from mental health institutions.

Expert headshot



About the author

Wendy Ketner, M.D.

Wendy Ketner, M.D.

Dr. Wendy Ketner is a distinguished medical professional with a comprehensive background in surgery and medical research. Currently serving as the Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs at the Expert Institute, she plays a pivotal role in overseeing the organization's most important client relationships. Dr. Ketner's extensive surgical training was completed at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, where she gained hands-on experience in various general surgery procedures, including hernia repairs, cholecystectomies, appendectomies, mastectomies for breast cancer, breast reconstruction, surgical oncology, vascular surgery, and colorectal surgery. She also provided care in the surgical intensive care unit.

Her research interests have focused on post-mastectomy reconstruction and the surgical treatment of gastric cancer, including co-authoring a textbook chapter on the subject. Additionally, she has contributed to research on the percutaneous delivery of stem cells following myocardial infarction.

Dr. Ketner's educational background includes a Bachelor's degree from Yale University in Latin American Studies and a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) from SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. Moreover, she is a member of the Board of Advisors for Opollo Technologies, a fintech healthcare AI company, contributing her medical expertise to enhance healthcare technology solutions. Her role at Expert Institute involves leveraging her medical knowledge to provide insights into legal cases, underscoring her unique blend of medical and legal acumen.

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