The statement of claim in the Tiwari family’s wrongful death and breach of privacy suit has been amended to allege that staff was negligent by attending a potluck lunch, rather than closely supervising Prashant Tiwari, 20, of Brampton. These allegations have yet to be proven in court. The family has also retained senior criminal counsel to investigate whether criminal charges should be laid against any responsible parties.
“This family deserves answers and accountability, now more than ever,” said Michael Smitiuch, of Smitiuch Injury Law PC, the lawyer representing the Tiwari family. “It’s in the family and the public’s best interest to understand how the system failed Prashant, and how other hospitals and staff can learn from these tragic circumstances.”
The Tiwaris are also urging Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice to override the province’s chief coroner, and allow an inquest into their son’s death. The family has filed an application for judicial review, after Dr. Dirk Huyer, earlier this month, refused to order an inquest, offering this reason: “There is no information to suggest that the issues identified in this death are directly transferrable to acute psychiatric care on a broader level or do they represent a systematic failure.”
On June 26 last year, Tiwari took his own life, while he was supposed to be under close staff supervision in the psychiatric unit of Brampton Civic Hospital. Although he was to be checked by staff every 15 minutes, Prashant was left unattended for close to three hours. His body was found later in the hospital washroom.
The Ontario government recently announced that new suicide prevention standards are being developed to improve the care of high-risk patients in hospitals across the province.
“It’s encouraging that the province recognizes the need for a higher standard of hospital care for high-risk patients,” added Smitiuch. “It’s a welcome announcement for the Tiwari family which is doing all it can to raise awareness to help save other lives.”
The death of Tiwari is not an isolated incident. A W5 segment shows as many as 300 suicide deaths in Canadian hospitals over the past decade, by patients who were supposed to be on strict watch. According to W5, 98 of those cases took place in Ontario.