herald

Monday 23 October 2017

Suicide victim's mother loses case against HSE

TRAGIC: Hospital discharged son

A MOTHER has lost a High Court action claiming the HSE failed to provide adequate care for her son who killed himself after being discharged from hospital following a suspected overdose.

Ellen Ann Orpen (53), of Beaugreen, Dunkineely, Co Donegal, claimed the HSE was negligent in its care of her son Michael (27), who presented himself at Letterkenny General Hospital on November 14, 2006, after taking a deliberate overdose of 50 tablets.

Michael received some treatment and was discharged early the next morning and was later that day assessed at the Parkview day hospital in Letterkenny before being discharged again, it was claimed.

That evening, November 15, he left his home and was reported missing on November 16, it was also claimed. On November 17, his car was found with his body in it in the water at Bruckless Pier in Donegal.

His mother, a school traffic warden and nurse, claimed in her action that the HSE had failed to properly treat her son, failed to recognise he was clinically depressed and required immediate hospitalisation and failed to alert his family.

The HSE denied the claims.

Dismissing the case yesterday, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill said he was quite satisfied that, based on the evidence, Mrs Orpen had failed to demonstrate any breach of duty of care by the HSE towards Michael.

He was satisfied senior psychiatric staff at the hospital had dealt with the suicide risk in an entirely appropriate manner.

Sister

The judge said when Michael presented himself at the hospital, on November 15, staff there had the option of either admitting him or discharging him into the care of Michael's sister, Mary Ellen.

The judge was quite satisfied the approach taken by the hospital, when it was decided that Michael was to be discharged after his sister arrived to collect him, was entirely consistent with psychiatric practice.

Mr Justice O'Neill also noted Michael had denied there was any psychiatric illness in the family when questioned at the hospital. During the proceedings evidence was given there was a history of suicide in the family.

Mrs Orpen's father (Michael's grandfather) had killed himself when she was three. In addition her (Mrs Orpen) only sister and a brother also killed themselves, the court also heard.

Michael was on a FAS course at the time of his death.

hnews@herald.ie

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