A hospital security officer who placed a mental health patient in a chokehold during a fatal restraint may face prosecution after damning inquest findings.
A hospital security officer who placed a mental health patient in a chokehold during a fatal restraint may face prosecution after damning inquest findings.

DEADLY RESTRAINT: Guard held patient in chokehold

A HOSPITAL security officer who placed a Townsville mental health patient in a "chokehold" during a fatal restraint may face prosecution after damning inquest findings.

The security officer, who cannot be named because of a non-publication order, helped restrain Charters Towers man Taare Tamakehu Rangi, 44, who died on July 7, 2018, in the Townsville Hospital's Acute Mental Health Unit.

He has been referred to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions over his involvement of the restraint, where he pinned Mr Rangi's head to the floor with his knee, and placed the patient into a neck restraint, found to be a "significant cause of his death".

The restraint technique was not authorised by the hospital, and the security officer maintained it for almost 60 seconds.

Registered Nurse Bincymole Shiju and Clinical Nurse Gillian Collier were both referred to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, and are both already under investigation by the board for their roles in performing and planning the restraint.

Nearly two years on, Coroner Nerida Wilson handed down her 59 page findings today, where she labelled the decision made to restrain Mr Rangi in order to forcibly administer an intramuscular injection of lorazepam, a sedative, inappropriate.

"It was contrary to the acute sedation guideline and the restraint procedure," Ms Wilson said. "It should not have occurred that evening.

"I find that Mr Rangi's behaviour was not such as to clinically warrant him being acutely sedated."

Confronting bodycam footage played during the inquest which also captured sound, showed Mr Rangi gasping for breath, his eyes bulging and his face changing colour as he was lying down on the ground while being held in a neck hold by the security officer.

Representing Mr Rangi's father Drage Rujanoski, family member Waka Rangi said he was happy with how "thorough and considered" the inquest had been.

"The findings weren't unexpected, it's a sad experience that didn't need to happen," he said.

"I hope they take away learnings (sic) from whatever the coroner recommends and obviously avoid this type of thing in the future."

The Acute Mental Health unit the Townsville Hospital – Photo: Cameron Laird.
The Acute Mental Health unit the Townsville Hospital – Photo: Cameron Laird.

Ms Wilson recommended the Townsville University Hospital ensure the use of force tactics whether they be attempted or actually applied during a restraint be documented in incident reports and described so what took place can be properly understood.

She found the Townsville Hospital and Health Service had taken steps to prevent similar deaths in the future by having accepted 45 recommendations made in three reports following Mr Rangi's death.

"Having regard to the evidence as a whole, at the relevant time there were no specific deficiencies in the Health Service's policies and procedures in respect of the physical restraint of patients," Ms Wilson said.

"The deficiencies that arose were in the application of those policies and procedures."

Townsville Hospital and Health Service chief executive Kieran Keyes released the following statement after the findings were handed down.

"I hope today's findings provide a degree of comfort and closure to Mr Rangi's family and I'd like to again express my sincere condolences," he said.

"The Coroner did not make any formal recommendations for the Townsville Hospital and Health Service.

"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.

"Nothing is more important than the safety of our patients."

Originally published as DEADLY RESTRAINT: Guard held patient in chokehold for 60 seconds



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