A nurse who was working in a Hunter psychiatric intensive care unit on the morning that Ahlia Raftery took her life told a professional disciplinary hearing that he believes his care for the 18-year-old was appropriate in the hours before her death.
The Health Care Complaints Commission has filed proceedings in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal against four nurses who were responsible for caring for Ahlia in her final 12 hours.
Ahlia was transferred between four mental health facilities in the six days before she took her life at the Mater Mental Health Centre’s Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit on March 19, 2015.
Ahlia was on 15-minute observations, meaning a staff member had to “sight” her at those intervals and note it down in a log.
Graeme Davies told a tribunal hearing on Tuesday that he had followed the correct observation protocols throughout his March 19 shift.
When challenged how thoroughly he had checked on Ahlia’s welfare, Mr Davies said he had “sighted” her from the nurses’ station as well as from in the ward at 6.15am, 6.30am and 6.45am.
Ahlia was found dead in her room about 7.25am.
A coronial inquest suggested she had died between 6.45am and 6.50am.
Mr Davies said he had spoken with Ahlia shortly before her death.
“I asked her if there was anything we could do to help her,”
“...I was not of the opinion that she was in mental distress otherwise I would have acted on it.”
The tribunal heard suicide risk was “dynamic” and could change quickly.
It also heard observation protocols in the ward have changed since Ahlia’s death.
Mr Davies said he was not made aware that Ahlia had made two previous attempts to take her life days earlier in another ward.
He also said he had not had the opportunity to read her clinical history.
Asked by Counsel Assisting if he had reflected on the care provided to Ahlia after her death, Mr Davies replied:
“I do not believe anything I did was less than appropriate.”
Hunter New England Health District admitted there were failures in Ahlia's care during a 2017 inquest and apologised to the family for their loss.
The inquest led to recommendations to improve policies, nurse training, record keeping and communication between staff so future tragedies could be prevented.
The hearing continues.
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