Mother Sues Institution And Hospital Over Matthew Goodman's
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 24, 2003
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA--Janice Roach filed suit Thursday against the New Jersey institution that housed her 14-year-old son, Matthew Goodman, along with the hospital where he died in February 2002.
Matthew, who had autism, was a resident at The Lindens, an institution for 60 youths with developmental disabilities run by Bancroft Neurohealth Inc. of Haddonfield, New Jersey. He died at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia on February 6 of aspiration pneumonia, acute respiratory distress and a blood infection, two days after the hospital had discharged him.
Roach claimed that the excessive use of restraints and heavy medication at Lindens weakened her son's immune system. She pointed to evidence that Matthew was placed in restraints for hours at a time -- sometimes overnight -- along with a medical report that showed the teen lost 23 pounds in the final six days of his life.
"He was put into what I'd call a prison-type setting . . . bound, overmedicated, allowed to lay on the floor in a semi-comatose state, never allowed outside, never allowed to socialize or to dress or feed himself, to the point where he didn't have much humanity left in him," Roach's lawyer, Slade McLaughlin, told the Star-Ledger Thursday.
The suit said that Matthew showed signs of pneumonia during a visit to the hospital on February 4, but that hospital staff discharged him anyway. On the morning of February 5, Bancroft staffers called Roach to tell her they could not detect Matthew's vital signs, the lawsuit said. Instead of calling an ambulance, staffers drove him back to the hospital.
The New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities concluded earlier this year that Bancroft Neurohealth improperly restrained Matthew and on several occasions left him unattended. The state's Division of Youth and Family Services, however, concluded that Matthew was not medically neglected, nor did his treatment at Lindens cause his death.
Roach, other parents, and advocates have been advocating for "Matthew's Law" a measure that would ban the use of restraints except in emergency situations for people with disabilities in private and public facilities. Such a law was proposed in January of this year, but lawmakers substituted the language for more lenient guidelines. Roach refused to give lawmakers permission to name the watered-down version after her son.
"Matthew's Law & Bancroft School" (Inclusion Daily Express)
Family Alliance to Stop Abuse and Neglect