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Coroner says Hospital Death was due to Lack of Risk Assessment

A broken-hearted family are to make a claim for compensation after a Coroner found their daughter´s tragic hospital death was due to the lack of a risk assessment.

The report followed the death of Amy Hauserman, who died at the age of 26 while taking a bath in Melbourne´s Frankston Hospital in March 2008. Amy had voluntarily been admitted to the hospital after doctors feared she was showing signs of schizophrenia which had previously resulted in Amy experiencing anorexia.

Two days after she had entered the psychiatric department of the hospital, Amy was allowed to take a bath, during which time – according to the Coroner´s report – she either lapsed into an unconscious state or slipped as she tried to get out of the bath. Amy was found face-down in the bath having died from “a hypoxic brain injury in a setting of immersion” which could have been avoided had a nurse been present in the bathroom.

Coroner Peter White said at the hearing into Amy´s death that “I find that the absence of supervision was a primary feature leading to her death, in that it caused or contributed to an inability to successfully intervene and to give effect to her rescue.” He also highlighted that no risk evaluation have been undertaken and that Amy was allowed an unsupervised bath without the advice of her consultant being sought.

One of the nurses who worked on the ward at the time gave evidence that she was unaware there was a protocol for patients taking baths, but she was contradicted by the Head of Nursing who said that all ward patients should only be allowed to take a bath after a risk assessment had been conducted and that observations should be done through direct visual and oral contact.

Immediately after the hearing had concluded, Amy´s father announced that the family would be making a compensation claim for a hospital death due to the lack of a risk assessment, and a date in May 2014 has been assigned for the compensation hearing.