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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Uncertainty surrounds death of Cumbrian hospital fall victim

A coroner says he couldn’t be certain whether a man who died after falling from a hospital toilet window was trying to escape or attempting to kill himself.

Deividas Sereika photo
Deividas Sereika

Related: Inquest verdict due after man's death fall at Cumbrian hospital

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.

He broke a window in one of the hospital bathrooms and squeezed himself out head-first.

Mr Sereika died a couple of hours later at about 10pm from his injuries after going into cardiac arrest twice.

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.

Doctors and the mental health liaison team at the hospital determined that Mr Sereika, who had previous problems with alcohol, needed to be treated medically first because his hallucinations were likely caused by alcohol withdrawals from drink.

Assistant coroner Robert Chapman recorded a narrative verdict. He said: “Taking into account his history of escaping from the hospital whilst in treatment, the state of his mental health, the attempted exit through the fire escape, it is uncertain whether, when exiting the window, he was trying to escape from the hospital ward or to kill himself.”

Mr Sereika had previously run away from hospital in April 2012.

Moments before Mr Sereika’s fall on May 8, Lianne Bartlett-Lowrey, a health care assistant at the hospital, saw him trying to get out of the fire exit.

When she went up to him, he asked her where the toilet was. After showing him and returning to the nurse’s station she heard glass shattering and Mr Sereika had squeezed himself out of the bathroom window.

One of the issues that had arisen during the inquest was whether the mental health liaison team should have carried out an assessment on Mr Sereikas.

Dr Andrew Morgan, a consultant psychiatrist for the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, believed it was a missed opportunity, but Mr Chapman was satisfied that even if a mental health assessment had been carried out, it wouldn’t have affected the outcome.

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