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Lismore hospital death: Daughter claims nurses lied to her about how her mother died

ABC News logo ABC News 12/05/2017
Corina Merten (L) and her mother Miriam Merten, before her death in Lismore hospital in 2014. © Supplied: Corina Merten Corina Merten (L) and her mother Miriam Merten, before her death in Lismore hospital in 2014.

The daughter of a woman who died after she was left to wander the halls of a New South Wales hospital — while naked and covered in faeces — says nurses there lied to her about what happened.

Miriam Merten died in 2014 from a brain injury after she fell over more than 20 times at the Mental Health Unit of Lismore Base Hospital, on the state's north coast in 2014.

A coronial inquest heard she was locked in a seclusion room for hours, and when the two nurses supervising her unlocked the door they allowed her to wander around naked, covered in faeces.

She continued to fall over outside the seclusion room.

Coroner Jeff Linden found she died from "traumatic brain injury caused by numerous falls and the self-beating of her head on various surfaces, the latter not done with the intention of taking her life".

Daughter wasn't aware of coronial inquest

Her daughter, Corina Leigh Merten, said she only found out exactly how her mother died when a journalist contacted her recently.

She said that at the time of her mother's death, nurses gave her a different version of how her mother died.

"I was in school, in Year 12, my dad came and picked me up and we went straight to the hospital," she said.

"At the time they told me she slipped and fell in the shower." Now 20, Corina Merten said she did not know the coronial inquest was on.

"I'm so disappointed that it took a reporter for me to know what actually happened to my mum," she said.

Two nurses stood down

The two nurses who were on duty at the time of Miriam Merten's death were stood down.

"I just think it's so important that there's proper care for people in these facilities," Corina Merten said.

"I don't know what was going on for those nurses or why they did what they did."

The coroner found that despite one of the nurses having almost 40 years' experience, she ignored protocols and did not offer Miriam Merten water or a chance to use the bathroom before locking her in seclusion.

Corina Merten was placed in foster care at the age of four.

She has since been adopted by her foster parents, but had been in contact with her mother throughout her life.

"She was a really kind, nice person," she said.

"I made sure we saw her on Mother's Day, birthdays, Christmas.

"She had mental health issues, but I wasn't aware of it all the time, it wasn't always obvious."

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