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Rebuked over care of mentally ill patient

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/04/2017
Stock © Corbis Stock

A hospital and psychiatrist failed to provide adequate care to a mentally ill patient who died, the Mental Health Commissioner says.

Releasing his findings on Monday, commissioner Kevin Allan said the ill man was not treated "with reasonable care and skill" in what was a breach of New Zealand's code of rights for health patients.

The man had initially gone to the hospital asking if his ears could be checked for transmitters because he was hearing voices.

He was hospitalised, prescribed medicine and eventually released into the care of a psychiatrist, backed by a mental health team.

But after months of treatment by the psychiatrist and team, as well as a brief treatment at a separate hospital, the man suffered a relapse in his illness.

His parents rang the hospital in an unsuccessful bid to have him admitted for treatment before losing track of his whereabouts.

He was subsequently found dead.

Mr Allan said the district health board responsible for running the hospital had provided sub-optimal care because it developed a plan for what to do in the event of a relapse without consulting the man or his parents.

The district health board also failed to recognise the man's behaviour was escalating and he was likely suffering a relapse, Mr Allan said.

He recommended the health board provide refresher education sessions for staff and review the way it makes and explains relapse plans to patients and their families.

He also recommended the health board and psychiatrist apologise to the man's family.

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