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Inquest into the Death of Arulselvam VELMURUGU

Inquest into the Death of Arulselvam VELMURUGU

Delivered on :12 May 20175

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner King

Recommendations :N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : Yes

No report may be published of any part of the proceedings or of the evidence given at this inquest that could lead to the identification of the deceased’s brother or nephew who have provided statements to this Court.

Summary : The deceased at the time of his death was a newly arrived Sri Lankan immigration detainee at a detention centre on Christmas Island. He was 35 years old and had a history of asthma.

On his arrival at the Christmas Island jetty by boat, the deceased was wheezy but not distressed.   Medical staff considered that his asthma was not life-threatening, but they fast-tracked him for assessment. He was taken to the detention centre. A nurse gave him oxygen and called the duty doctor, who instructed her to give the deceased salbutamol and prednisolone. The doctor was 20 minutes away by road.

Ten minutes after the medications were administered, the deceased’s condition deteriorated. The nurse again called the doctor. He instructed the nurse to continue with the high-flow oxygen and salbutamol and said that he would attend immediately. Within minutes, the deceased required to use the toilet. The nurse disconnected him from the oxygen and walked him the short distance to the toilet block. When the deceased arrived at the toilet he slumped to the ground and went into respiratory arrest. CPR was commenced and an ambulance was called but the deceased could not be revived.

The focus of the inquest was the medical care provided to the deceased while in immigration detention. The Coroner found that, in hindsight, a lack of an appropriate triage system, a lack of effective organisation and maintenance of equipment and possibly a communication error led to the deceased receiving inadequate treatment. The Coroner was unable to find whether the adequate treatment contributed to his death.

Catch Words : Immigration Detention Centre : Processing new arrivals : Triage : Medical resources at processing centres : Asthma : Natural Causes.

Last updated: 23-May-2017

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