John “Jack” Walsh’s sisters were with him hours before he died. But later that day the nursing home resident was left alone at a medical appointment, walked out of the office and died in the woods, according to family members filing a lawsuit in New Hampshire.
The family is suing Parkland Medical Center, the site of the appointment; Pleasant Valley Nursing Center in Derry, where Walsh lived; and Action Ambulance, which took him to Parkland, the Derry News reported.
In the lawsuit, the family says all three parties were responsible for Walsh’s safety and no one stayed with the 63-year-old schizophrenia patient during a radiology appointment. In the complaint, filed in New Hampshire’s Rockingham Superior Court on Dec. 5, 2017, attorney Michael Rainboth wrote that Walsh’s sisters, Joanne Simpson and Judy Zaremba, are seeking unspecified compensation for damages and loss.
Walsh was a ward of the state. The family believed Walsh suffered from several mental health issues, including dementia and autism, and he entered Pleasant Valley in November 2016.
Walsh went the next month to Parkland Medical Center for radiology testing on his throat, but the complaint says neither sister had been informed about the appointment, according to the newspaper. Walsh left the waiting room around 1 p.m., and a search did not begin until 6:30 p.m., court documents allege.
His remains were found almost three months later less than a mile from the hospital, with the cause of death cited as an enlarged heart, possibly caused by a fall and drowning.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Parkland Medical Center said the hospital believed its “staff acted appropriately and we did all we could to support the local authorities.”
Action Ambulance did not comment on the case, and a spokesperson from Pleasant Valley declined to comment until executives had seen a copy of the lawsuit.
The family said negligence from Parkland, Pleasant Valley and Action Ambulance resulted in “painful injuries, mental pain and suffering, pre-death fright, loss of enjoyment of life and other damages,” according to the lawsuit.
“Jack’s death should never have happened,” Simpson, one of the sisters, said to the newspaper. “We hope this tragedy, although it hurt our family very much, will in some way benefit the public by not allowing this type of carelessness to happen again.”