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Australia Restraint on Taare Tamakehu Rangi who died in Townsville Hospital not warranted, coroner finds

15:52  29 june  2020
15:52  29 june  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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a man standing in front of a fence: Mr Rangi died in the hospital's Acute Mental Health Unit in July 2018. (ABC North Qld: Chloe Chomicki) © Provided by ABC Health Mr Rangi died in the hospital's Acute Mental Health Unit in July 2018. (ABC North Qld: Chloe Chomicki)

A coroner has delivered her findings into the death of a man in Townsville Hospital after being restrained by security officers and nurses who were trying to inject a sedative.

Taare Tamakehu Rangi, 44, from Charters Towers, died in the hospital's Acute Mental Health Unit in July 2018.

In her findings, Coroner Nerida Wilson said the application of a neck restraint upon Mr Rangi was a substantial or significant cause of his death.

One officer, who cannot be named due to a non-publication order, pinned Mr Rangi's head down with his knee and used a chokehold.

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Both restraints were not authorised by the hospital.

"Mr Rangi suffered an arrhythmia as result of the restraint — the compression of [his] neck during the restraint, the fear and stress he would have experienced during the restraint, his obesity and enlarged heart were contributory to death," Ms Wilson said.

The officer has been referred to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions over the incident.

Registered nurse Bincymole Shiju and clinical nurse Gillian Collier were referred to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency by the coroner for their involvement in planning and executing the restraint.

They are also under investigation by the hospital board.

Ms Wilson said the decision by staff to restrain and sedate Mr Rangi for refusing to take his medication was not warranted.

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"Mr Rangi was not agitated, threatening violence, actually violent or a danger to himself or others," she said.

During two sittings last year, the Townsville Coroners Court was shown disturbing CCTV and body-camera footage of three nurses and three security officers restraining Mr Rangi.

The vision showed his gasping for air as his face became discoloured, staff not withdrawing from the restraint.

No formal recommendations for hospital

In her recommendations, Ms Wilson said there had been no specific deficiencies in the hospital's policies and procedures in respect to the physical restraint of patients, instead she identified a lack of compliance in applying those policies.

Following the release of the findings, the hospital's chief executive, Kieran Keyes, expressed his condolences to Mr Rangi's family.

"The coroner did not make any formal recommendations for the Townsville Hospital and Health Service," he said in a statement.

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"This in no way diminishes the sorrow we feel that Mr Rangi's death occurred while he was in our care.

"Since Mr Rangi's death, I have seen the extraordinary amount of hard work that has gone into improving the services we provide to some of the most vulnerable members of our community."

On behalf of the family, Waka Rangi accepted the coroner's findings and thanked the court for its professionalism in handling the inquest.

"We're glad that that's over; it was a sad, sad event," he said.

"We're fairly happy with the level of professionalism that came out of the coroner's inquest and the subsequent findings.

"What we are just hoping is that learnings come from this terrible event and this doesn't happen again in the future.

"It didn't need to happen."

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