The Citizen’s Voice

Staff writer @cvjimhalpin

The family of a Pittston doctor who hanged himself shortly after being discharged from Wilkes-Barre General Hospital has sued the hospital alleging doctors there failed to act when he expressed suicidal thoughts during a psychiatric assessment.

Dr. Steven Allan Azaravich, 33, of Pittston, was found dead July 22, 2015, less than two days after telling doctors he had been thinking for weeks about hanging himself, according to the lawsuit filed by Scranton-based attorney Michael J. Pisanchyn.

“Inexplicably and despite all the signs and symptoms that were relayed to the doctors and specifically documented in the medical records, a few short hours later patient Azaravich was discharged by the physicians and hospital,” Pisanchyn said in a statement. “The next time the Pittston police were called it was by Dr. Azaravich’s mother — she was frantic as she just found her son hanging from an extension cord.”

According to the complaint, Azaravich graduated Penn State Hershey School of Medicine and had done a residency at the University of Virginia.

The complaint alleges that prior to being treated at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, Azaravich had been prescribed medication by a University of Virginia Health System doctor who failed to evaluate his mental condition.

On July 20, 2015, Azaravich called 911 to report he was suicidal and was taken to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, where he said he had for weeks been considering hanging himself.

The hospital staff failed to contact his treating psychiatrist in Virginia or any member of his family, the complaint alleges. He was discharged about eight hours after admission despite having admitted having persistent depression and a plan for committing suicide, the complaint says.

The morning of July 22, 2015, Azaravich’s parents found he had hanged himself in the basement.

The lawsuit — filed on behalf of his wife Sonia Azaravich and parents Allan and Diane Azaravich — targets Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, Community Health Systems, the University of Virginia Health System and their associated medical personnel.

The lawsuit alleges gross negligence on the part of the providers, who failed to properly diagnose Steven Azaravich, failed to get him proper help and failed to alert his family and psychiatrist of his suicidal thoughts.

A spokeswoman for Commonwealth Health, the hospital’s parent company, did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday afternoon.

To learn more about hospitals’ duty to keep individuals under their care if they pose a threat to themselves or others, also known as Statute 302, click here.