Court orders religious woman's discharge from psychiatric hospital
March 12, 2014
CLEVELAND (CN) - A self-published spiritual author sued a doctor and hospital, claiming she was involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric ward after becoming "confused and disoriented" on the 15th day of a "biblical fast," and that hospital staff misinterpreted her prayers as psychotic tendencies.
Jane Doe sued St. Vincent Charity Medical Center and Dr. Saraj Brar, in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.
Doe, 56, describes herself in the complaint as "a Pentecostal Christian and a self-published author of books about God and spirituality."
The lawsuit continues: "As part of her religious devotion, she periodically observes a biblical fast during which she abstains from all foods and consumes only water.
"In the early morning hours of July 10, 2013, Doe was on the 15th day of such a fast.
"While at a BP gas station in the city of Cleveland, Doe became confused and disoriented, and she contacted her mother for assistance."
Doe says she was taken to the emergency room at St. Vincent's and then involuntarily admitted to the hospital's psychiatric ward.
"Blood tests taken at the time of Doe's admission revealed low sodium, potassium and electrolyte levels, indicative of water intoxication and hyponatremia," the complaint states.
"Notwithstanding the results of Doe's blood tests, Dr. Brar diagnosed Doe on admission as suffering from bipolar disorder with psychotic features."
Doe claims that while she was at the hospital, "Dr. Brar and other St. Vincent's staff characterized Doe's religious devotion as evidence of mental instability, making repeated references to her 'religious preoccupation' and noting Doe's Bible reading and audible praying as evidence [of] mental illness."
She claims that "when Doe refused to take anti-psychotic medications prescribed by Dr. Brar, defendants sought continued involuntary commitment through the Cuyahoga County Probate Court."
Doe says Brar refused to let her leave the hospital after nearly five days of observation, and "instituted an action in the Cuyahoga County Probate Court seeking Doe's continued involuntary detention."
She claims that "Dr. Brar's affidavit was incomplete and misrepresented to the Probate Court that defendants had complied with their obligations under Ohio Rev. Code 5122."
The Probate Court scheduled an initial hearing for July 25, but Doe says the hospital refused to provide copies of her medical records until the day before the final hearing, scheduled for Aug. 9.
She claims that "based on the evidence presented, the Probate Court granted Doe's oral motion to dismiss the proceedings and ordered Doe's immediate discharge."
She seeks punitive damages for false imprisonment and violations of patient rights.
She is represented by Angela Lavin, with Wegman, Hessler, and Vandenburg.
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