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Friday, 21 November 2014

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Hospital fall man squeezed himself out of window, inquest told

A man plummeted to his death after squeezing himself head-first out of a hospital toilet window, an inquest heard.

Deividas Sereika photo
Deividas Sereika

Related: Staff should have kept eye on Cumbrian hospital fall man - psychiatrist

Deividas Sereika, 40, of Edinburgh Road, Maryport, died on May 8 last year after the fall from a third-storey window at Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital.

Earlier that day he was taken to hospital after being found in a distressed state complaining that aliens were talking to him through a chip in his wrist.

On the third day of the inquest at the coroner’s court in Cockermouth, assistant coroner Robert Chapman heard from Lianne Bartlett-Lowrey, a health care assistant at West Cumberland Hospital.

She was one of the members of staff who saw Mr Sereika, who moved to Maryport about six years ago from Lithuania, moments before his fall.

At about 7pm that day, she was working on the Patterdale Ward of the hospital, where Mr Sereika was transferred from the accident and emergency department. She was notified by Barry Phillip Adams, porter team leader, that Mr Sereika was trying to get out of the fire exit.

When Ms Bartlett-Lowrey went up to him, he asked her where the toilet was.

After showing him and returning to the nurse’s station she heard a clatter, which she said she thought was just something being knocked over. She then heard glass shattering.

“I went into the bathroom, which was unlocked,” she recalled. “I saw a male by the window with his back to me and his head through the bottom of the window.

“He was moving his arms in a breast stroke motion aiming to get himself further out of the window. I froze for a second and went towards him but it was too late. He just went out of the window.”

Medical staff rushed outside to tend to him. Ms Bartlett-Lowrey believed he was trying to eat the glass after his fall and that nurses were holding his hands to stop him putting glass in his mouth.

Several at the inquest said the double-glazed window was the type that could only be partially opened. Mr Chapman questioned what could have been used to smash it, with witnesses stating that only a heavy bin and toilet cistern were the noticeable objects in the bathroom and nothing looked out of place.

Nadia Whittaker, representing Mr Sereika’s family, asked Nichola Jayne Mitchinson, a senior staff nurse on the ward that day what would have happened if a recommendation to keep Mr Sereika under close observation had come from the mental health team.

Ms Mitchinson said she would have asked her line manager for an extra member of staff to observe him and would have moved him to a more visible area.

She added: “We would still have had to respect his dignity and privacy and allow him to got to the toilet without anyone observing him in the bathroom.”

The inquest continues.

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