The family of a young psychiatric patient who drowned while taking a bath has stated that they intend to make a claim against the hospital for negligence which led to the woman’s death.
In March 2008, Amy Hauserman (26) voluntarily admitted herself to the Frankston Hospital in Melbourne after consulting doctors, who feared that Amy was showing signs of schizophrenia which had resulted in Amy previously suffering from anorexia.
Only a few days after Amy was admitted, she died from a “hypoxic brain injury in a setting of immersion”. The coroner involved in the case-Peter White-stated that this was either due to Amy lapsing into an unconscious state while taking a bath, or falling as she tried to climb out of it.
In his report, the Coroner made a note which stated that no risk assessment had been conducted as to whether it was safe for Amy to take a bath unsupervised, and that Amy’s consulted had not been asked about the dangers involved beforehand. The Coroner also said that the absence of supervision for Amy was a primary and contributing feature of her death, as it would have been avoided if a nurse had been present in the bathroom.
The hospital’s Head of Nursing stated that all psychiatric ward patients were only allowed to take a bath without supervision after a risk assessment had been conducted. However, one of Amy’s nurses stated that she was unaware that protocol for patients taking baths even existed at the Frankston Hospital.
Amy’s father made a statement after the Coroner’s verdict had been delivered. He stated that the family would be making a claim for a hospital death due to a lack of care on the grounds that if the staff that were charged with caring for Amy had “showed her the due and proper care she deserved, she would still be us now”.
The Mornington Peninsula Health Service–against who the compensation claim for a hospital death due to a lack of care has been made–failed to comment on Mr Hauserman´s statement. A court date has now been set for the claim to be heard in May 2014.