Dibley inquest clears medical staff
CORONER Paul MacMahon has made a series of recommendations after reviewing all of the circumstances surrounding the suicide death of Coffs Harbour Base Hospital patient Samuel Dibley.
Mr Dibley died after he was admitted through the hospital's mental health unit in 2009.
He attempted suicide on May 20 and hospital staff performed urgent medical treatment before he was taken to the intensive care unit and placed on life support, but passed away three days later.
Handing down his findings in the coronial inquest into Mr Dibley's death, Mr MacMahon found the 23-year-old had taken his own life and that hospital staff gave him adequate care.
Mr MacMahon noted the death was a great tragedy for his family to come to terms with, but said he was satisfied with the actions of medical and nursing staff and found they did not contribute to Mr Dibley's death.
However, he raised the point that the ward in which he was treated had been cleaned in the aftermath and vital police evidence may have been lost.
Legal representatives for the Dibleys said the family were examining the findings handed down in the Glebe Coroner's Court.
Slater & Gordon Medical Negligence lawyer Thanh Le said the family would need some time to properly consider those findings before responding to them publicly
In his recommendations, the coroner called on the health department to develop better protocols, including perserving crime scenes, identifying witnesses for police and taking witness statements.
The coroner said similar recommendations were made by a colleague after an inquest last year.
Mr MacMahon said after that inquest he was informed that discussions were about to take place between health officials and police to prepare a response.
He again called for government departments to consider the recommendations.
NSW Health responded saying: "A joint agency working group has been convened to look at existing protocols for Police and Health co-operation in these types of matters and how these might be enhanced."
"Findings in the inquest confirm that medical treatment and actions taken by clinicians at the hospital were appropriate and did not in any way contribute to the death of Mr Samuel Dibley."
The Mid North Coast Local Health Network confirmed police were notified by Coffs Harbour Hospital on the day of Mr Dibley's death.