Hospital Fined $160,000 After Patient’s Death

The healthcare provider was sentenced, without conviction, in the Melbourne County Court today after pleading guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure persons other than employees were not exposed to health and safety risks.

The court heard the patient was involuntarily admitted to Casey Hospital’s acute mental health unit at high risk of suicide in May 2015 and required visual welfare checks every 15 minutes.

In August 2015, nurses conducting a welfare check found the patient had attempted to take her own life in the visitors’ toilet. She was transferred to the hospital’s emergency department for treatment but died two days later.

WorkSafe’s investigation found a hospital audit had previously identified a risk to patient safety in the visitors’ toilet, however, no action was taken.

The court heard it was reasonably practicable for Monash Health to have reduced or eliminated the relevant risk of injury or death.

WorkSafe Executive Director Narelle Beer said the tragic incident could have been avoided.

“Ways to control the risk of deaths by suicide in mental health units have been well understood in the healthcare industry for many years,” Dr Beer said.

“WorkSafe will not hesitate to take strong enforcement action when duty holders are not doing everything they can to protect those in their care, including from intentional self-harm.”

/Public Release. View in full here.