Just showing you how shit the mental health system (was) and still is. This below involved a family member of mine I didn’t know her very well but what I remember was nothing but kindness
An inquest has criticised the level of communication between authorities at the Royal Hobart Hospital’s psychiatric ward and the families of patients.
The coroner was handing down his findings into the deaths of Samantha Elizabeth Brown, 30 and Tracey Lee Wishart, 41, both of whom committed suicide while voluntary psychiatric patients.
On the day of Mrs Wishart’s death, her parents arrived at the hospital around the time her body was found and taken to the emergency ward.
Coroner Rod Chandler said despite staff suspicions that the body may have been that of Mrs Wishart’s, staff kept her parents in the dark.
Mr Chandler said her parents left the facility to begin their own search just before staff confirmed it was Mrs Wishart’s body.
He said it was not until her parents contacted police that they discovered their daughter was dead.
Mr Chandler described hospital management’s actions as insensitive at best, and urged more considerate dealings with patients’ families in the future.
The inquest also found Mrs Wishart was improperly classified when she left the ward to kill herself.
After years of depressive illness, Mrs Wishart was admitted to the Royal’s psychiatric ward for the last time in April 2003 as a voluntary patient.
She was initially classified as a category three patient, but in the days leading up to her suicide, authorities downgraded that to category four, entitling her to leave the ward unaccompanied.
This was despite reports from staff and family members that she had run into traffic on several occasions and once tried to jump from a moving vehicle.
Mr Chandler found Mrs Wishart did not meet the criteria for a category four patient, and the seriousness of her illness warranted a higher level of observation and supervision.
However, he said even as a category three patient, her death would not have been prevented because she could still have left the ward unaccompanied to smoke.
The coroner found Ms Brown died in July 2002, after leaving the hospital’s psychiatric ward and jumping from the Tasman Bridge.
In his findings, Mr Chandler criticised one doctor’s reaction to news of her disappearance.
He said a staff member had contacted the hospital to say they had seen Ms Brown walking on the Tasman Bridge.
At the time, the doctor decided to take no action, because he thought she was walking to the eastern shore where family members lived.
Mr Chandler said the circumstances as they were known to the doctor warranted a more cautious response.
Among his recommendations, Mr Chandler called for the department to work more closely with police to ensure missing patients are found as soon as possible.