Hospital patient who absconded and was struck by train was rated as ‘low’ suicide risk, inquest told
A patient who was struck by a train after absconding from a mental health hospital had been assessed as a low suicide risk, a doctor has told an inquest.
Matthew Caseby, 23, died in 2020 after being found by police on railway tracks in Oxfordshire and then admitted as an NHS patient at Birmingham’s Priory Hospital Woodbourne, the city’s Coroner’s Court heard.
An inquest jury, which is expected to hear two weeks of evidence, was told how Mr Caseby was seen by a staff member looking at a fence in a courtyard at the hospital before he left the site.
The University of Birmingham graduate’s father Richard, 61, told the court on Monday that health authorities had a basic legal duty to keep his son safe and secure.
Giving evidence on Tuesday, Dr Taofeeq Elias said he was among several medical staff who had talked with Mr Caseby.
Dr Elias, who was working as a resident medical officer at the hospital, said notes recorded at the time stated that Mr Caseby was “talking bizarrely” and not making sense.
Notes also stated that the patient had been “guarded, distracted” and could not clearly account for what led him to be on the railway in Oxfordshire.
Dr Elias said no attempts had been made by Mr Caseby to harm himself at the hospital, and that he had been graded as “low” in several categories contained in a risk assessment.
The doctor told the inquest jury: “My overall view was he was guarded and there was a lot we didn’t know about him.”
Asked why he had rated Mr Caseby as a low suicide risk, the doctor added: “I came to that conclusion based on the circumstances surrounding his admission.
“He denied any suicidal ideation. So in my thinking at the time he was more likely to be psychotic.”
Having reflected on the circumstances, Dr Elias said, the suicide risk should have been assessed as medium.
Following the assessment, the court heard, Mr Caseby was placed on level two observations, meaning he would be checked on around four times per hour.
The inquest continues.
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