State: CHS failed to warn Chapman's wife of his wishes to kill her

Charlotte’s psychiatric hospital failed to warn Kenny Chapman’s wife about his threats to harm her in the weeks and hours before he killed her and two of her children, state regulators have found.

Twice last year, Kenny Chapman went to the emergency room at CMC-Randolph seeking help. The first time, in February 2010, he told clinicians he wanted to harm his wife, Nateesha. The second time, he said he wanted to kill her.

But on March 16, just hours after he left the hospital, police say he suffocated his wife, then killed two of the children.

Relatives contend Nateesha Chapman and her children might be alive today if the hospital’s staff had warned her that her husband wanted to kill her.

The state’s findings were revealed this week in a lawsuit filed by family members, who maintain that inadequate hospital care led to the killings.

The hospital, owned by Mecklenburg County and run by Carolinas HealthCare System, did have a warning policy. It states that if hospital professionals learn there is a “clear and imminent reasonably foreseeable danger of harm by a patient to a known specific victim,” they should consult with a department head and “if appropriate, notify the police and intended victim.”

But in an investigation last year, officials with the state Department of Health and Human Services found no evidence that a nurse who evaluated Chapman had reviewed the hospital’s warning policy. That nurse had been on the job just a month and a half, state officials found.

“The hospital failed to ensure a safe discharge by failing to warn a known potential victim of a patient’s threats to harm her,” a department investigator wrote in a letter to a state official who filed the complaint.

Jim Cooney, a Charlotte lawyer who is representing Carolinas HealthCare, said the hospital system contests those allegations and will have opportunities to present its evidence during various administrative reviews.

But CMC-Randolph has moved to address the state’s concerns nonetheless. According to state records, it has re-educated all its psychiatrists, nurses and therapists on the warning policy and has taken additional steps to ensure new employees understand the policy.

Responding to the lawsuit Thursday, the hospital contended it is not to blame in the Chapman tragedy.

“We believe that Mr. Chapman was appropriately seen, evaluated, monitored and treated on the two occasions that he came to CMC-Randolph,” Cooney said in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately, not even the most experienced psychiatric professional can know with certainty what a patient may choose to do in the future.”

Staff Writer Ely Portillo contributed.