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Iowa woman suing UIHC after husband jumps to his death

Vanessa Miller, CR Gazette –

The wife of a North Liberty man who died in July 2009 after jumping off a parking ramp at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in suing the state on allegations the hospital staff negligently allowed her suicidal husband to temporarily leave the hospital with her without an escort.

According to a lawsuit filed in Johnson County District Court last week, Kenneth Cabbage was receiving inpatient custodial psychiatric care for severe depression on July 27, 2009, when he asked to leave for the afternoon to get ice cream with his wife, Phyllis Cabbage.

The staff let him go without sending along a person to supervise, and when the couple arrived back at the Iowa City hospital, Kenneth Cabbage jumped off the parking ramp and fell to his death, according to the lawsuit.

Phyllis Cabbage is suing the state, which employs the UIHC doctors who were responsible for her husband, on behalf of herself, her husband’s estate and her son and daughter. She is claiming losses in the form of Kenneth Cabbage’s financial support, comfort and companionship, and she’s asking for an unspecified judgment against the state.

According to the lawsuit, Kenneth Cabbage was admitted to the UIHC psychiatric unit about two months before taking his own life after experiencing suicidal thoughts. He received a course of electric current therapy and was placed on medications, and he was an inpatient until June 19, 2009, when doctors noted that he was no longer depressed and not suicidal, according to the lawsuit.

Cabbage’s suicidal thoughts returned days later, and he tried to take his own life by overdosing on July 4, 2009. He was readmitted as an inpatient in the psychiatric unit and was continuing to express feelings of hopelessness in the days preceding his death, according to the lawsuit.

Phyllis is accusing the state, through its doctors, of negligently letting a severely depressed Kenneth Cabbage leave without an escort only days after he expressed a desire to die. She also is accusing the state of depriving her husband of early and proper treatment.

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