Judy, age 20, was admitted to an inpatient psychiatric facility for acute depression and suicidal ideation. She had gone to the local police station the previous afternoon, stating that she was suicidal. The police transported her to the emergency center, and Judy was admitted on a 24-hour emergency mental health hold. O n admission, Judy was obviously depressed and stated that she was still tormented with thoughts about killing herself. Later that evening, the nurses heard a crash from Judy’s room and, upon investigation, found her sitting on the bed with an overturned chair next to the bed. She had torn her robe, tied the pieces together as a rope, and fell from the chair as she was attempting to tie the homemade rope to the ceiling. Judy was immediately placed on a 15-minute observation protocol. The following morning, the patient was still on observation every 15 minutes. The nurse at that point determined that Judy was more coherent and noted that Judy was disturbed by her appearance as she had not bathed in some days. The nurse unlocked the bathroom door so that Judy could shower. S oon after the bathroom door was unlocked, Judy’s psychiatrist came to speak with her. She remained with Judy for about 45 minutes, left the room, and entered a charting area next

to the nurses’ station. The nurse caring for Judy did not see the psychiatrist leave Judy’s room, nor did the psychiatrist inform the nurse that Judy was now alone in her room. The nurse checked on Judy approximately 15 minutes later. She found Judy hanging by the belt of her bathrobe from the shower rod. Judy was in full cardiac and respiratory arrest, a code was called, and Judy now has severe and permanent anoxic brain injury. Her parents have brought this lawsuit alleging breach of the standard of nursing care.

Was the nurse negligent for unlocking the bath-room door and allowing Judy to shower by herself?

Was it below the standard of care for the nurse to leave the bathroom door unlocked when the psychiatrist came to see Judy?

How significant are the hospital policy and procedures in this instance?