Hospital clears staff of wrongdoing in July death

An official at the GW Hospital said this week that employees were not responsible for the July death of a man who fell from a ledge on the building, according to the findings of an ongoing internal investigation.

On July 19, 38-year-old Kossi Apeble fell from a fifth-story ledge at the hospital onto the edge of an inflatable mat, after threatening to jump for about four hours. Apeble, a resident of Silver Spring, Md., was in critical condition after the fall and died several days later.

“Based on the investigation that we have to date there were no employees at fault,” said Matthew Klein, GW Hospital general counsel. “Our investigation today reveals that all the employees at the GW Hospital did everything they were supposed to do to treat and care for this patient.”

The man was admitted to the hospital the previous night for injuries sustained from a car accident. It remains unclear whether the window in his room was open.

Klein said the hospital had no information indicating the patient posed a suicide risk or had a psychiatric history.

“The hospital would be liable if . we had information that indicated to us that a patient had suicidal ideations and we failed to take appropriate precautions,” Klein said. “We had absolutely no information that this person was a suicide risk, and therefore there was nothing we could do to prevent this from happening.”

The investigation into the incident is not complete and Klein said the hospital will likely consider a change in hospital policies even if employees were not at fault.

“GW Hospital will always assess and evaluate its actions and conduct in response to any scenario to determine if anything reasonably could be done to prevent it from happening again,” Klein said.

This was the first suicide attempt at the new GW Hospital since it opened at its current location in 2002.

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