Investigative report spurs Joint Commission to review South Carolina patient's death

The Joint Commission is investigating the death of a South Carolina patient who died after being improperly restrained by state mental health employees, reports The State.

William Avant, 35, died of suffocation Jan. 22 after seven employees at the Bryan Psychiatric Facility in Columbia, S.C., piled on top of him for four minutes, failing to monitor his vitals. The county coroner ruled Mr. Avant's death a homicide, saying the employees' actions directly caused his death, according to The State. However, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division did not press criminal charges after its investigation.

The Joint Commission learned of the incident after The State released an investigative report on the state-run mental health facility. The accrediting body said it would review Mr. Avant's death and take action as necessary.

Greg Pearce, board chairman of South Carolina's Mental Health Commission, told The State he could not comment on the specifics of Mr. Avant's case or the Department of Mental Health's response due to patient privacy laws. However, he did say that the commission agreed the department's response, which included retraining employees and revising restraint policies, was appropriate.

"I am personally satisfied that everything was done," he said. "Unfortunately, you cannot undo these types of things when they happen. But you can deal with it very aggressively from a personnel standpoint."

Editor's note: This article was updated July 18 at 2:52 p.m.

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