Coroner slams handling of death of Christchurch man discharged from hospital, left abandoned at bus stop

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A coroner’s inquest into the death of a Christchurch man, who was discharged from hospital and left abandoned at a bus stop, has slammed the efforts of some hospital staff and police.

Christchurch Hospital

Source: 1 NEWS

47 year old Neil Jones died at Christchurch Hospital in October 2013, after a long fight with alcoholism.

His partner had taken her own life five years prior, and as his addiction worsened, his two children were taken to live with their grandparents in Nelson.

In mid-2013 Mr Jones sought help from Alcohol Addiction services, but there were no beds available at the rehabilitation program until December. A waiting time that Coroner Michael Robb has ruled as "wholly inappropriate".

On October 8, he was admitted to hospital, having not eaten for six weeks, and drinking as much as three litres of vodka a day.

After 2 weeks in hospital, his condition was said to have "stabilised" and discharge options were considered.

On October 28, nurses expressed concern over his mental health and noted he had been defecating in his own clothing.

Despite this, gastroenterologist Dr Richard Gearry, determined Mr Jones was being deliberately incontinent, and said if he didn’t leave the hospital, security would escort him off the premises.

When security was called, they also expressed concern over Mr Jones apparent poor health, before taking him to a nearby bus stop where he lay on the ground.

That afternoon after multiple members of public raised concerns, he was taken to the hospital’s Emergency Department.

But instead of providing a medical examination, police were called to remove him from the hospital and he was taken to the city mission.

Coroner Robb says there were multiple opportunities for someone to have provided Mr Jones with a medical assessment, and any policy to ensure that happened, failed.

He says police undertook limited, if any, investigation of the circumstance, and their actions did not “represent initiative and good policing”.

City Mission staff reluctantly took Mr Jones’ in but within hours, he was vomiting blood and an ambulance was called to take him back to hospital.

The father of two died at 7am the following morning.

The Canterbury District Health Board says trespassing patients is now extremely rare, and they’ve implemented a programme to encourage nurses to raise any concerns they have.

Dr Gearry has accepted, that upon reflection, it was not in Mr Jones’ best interests to be discharged when he was.

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