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Inquest into the Death of Merita BELICA

Inquest into the Death of Merita BELICA

Delivered on :16 February 2016

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner Linton

Recommendations :N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : The deceased was a young 25 year old mother of a small child and a newborn baby at the time of her death.  At the time of her death the deceased was an involuntary patient under the Mental Health Act 1996.

The focus of the inquest was on three areas: Whether it was appropriate to admit the deceased to the Mother and Baby Unit at King Edward Memorial Hospital, having regard to the deceased’s level of risk of self-harm or absconding.  Was regard given to the deceased’s level of risk of absconding and the decision to admit the deceased into the Mother and Baby Unit.  What changes have occurred at the Mother and Baby Unit as a result of the deceased’s death to reduce the risk of other patients absconding.

The deceased presented to various psychiatric services in the days following the birth of her second child.  She was ultimately diagnosed with major depressive disorder post partum (similar to what she experienced following the birth of her second son).  The deceased was provided with the majority of her treatment, care and supervision at the Mother and Baby Unit at King Edward Memorial Hospital.  During her admission she consistently denied any suicidal thoughts and there were no obvious indications that her denials were not genuine.  The deceased appeared compliant with her management plan and medications and showed some signs of improvement.

The Coroner found that the evidence suggested the deceased’s suicide was unplanned, impulsive and opportunistic, however, it appeared that once she had made the decision she was purposeful in her intent.  The Coroner found that if the deceased had been more securely contained, based on the expert evidence, the deceased would most likely have responded to treatment and eventually been able to go home.

The Coroner was satisfied that the deceased was properly admitted to the Mother and Baby Unit at King Edward Memorial Hospital and was receiving an appropriate level of medical treatment and care.  However, the Coroner found that there was a failing in the supervision of the deceased in that she was allowed unsupervised access to the laundry courtyard, which was inadequately fenced to contain her.  The Coroner was satisfied with the changes which had been implemented by the hospital following the death of the deceased to reduce the risk of a similar event occurring again.

Catch Words : Depressive Disorder : Absconding : Suicide.

Last updated: 15-Mar-2016

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