Denver’s Eating Recovery Center ignored patients’ repeated suicide attempts, state investigation finds
November 13, 2023
By: Seth Klamman
Two young patients repeatedly attempted to kill themselves in a three-week span earlier this year at a leading Denver eating disorder clinic after a doctor told staff to ignore their behavior, a state investigation found.
The two patients — aged 11 and 14 — arrived at the nationally renowned Eating Recovery Center’s Spruce Street clinic in Denver within a day of each other in early June. Both had histories of self-harm and suicidal ideation, in addition to their eating disorders. As their behavior escalated, lower-level staff raised concerns that they weren’t capable of caring for the patients.
But the center’s leaders kept them anyway, in violation of the facility’s own policies, according to an investigation by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Top providers believed the patients’ behavior was an attempt to get out of treatment. They addressed the mounting suicide attempts via “therapeutic ignoring” and increased check-ins. At one point, one of the patients was left in a hallway for 10 minutes amid one attempt, until other patients rushed over and called for help.