Saturday 20 October 2018

Damages for man after wife takes her own life

Angelo Cloonan and daughter Stephanie leave the High Court after the hearing. Photo: Courtpix
Angelo Cloonan and daughter Stephanie leave the High Court after the hearing. Photo: Courtpix

Tim Healy

The High Court has awarded €263,000 damages to the husband of a woman who took her own life the day after she was discharged from hospital, having being admitted for taking an overdose of pills.

The award was made to Angelo Cloonan, who sued the HSE and Dr Kishan Browne for negligence on grounds including a failure to properly assess the imminent risk of suicide by his wife Josephine (Josie).

Mr Justice Michael Hanna said Mrs Cloonan was "not afforded an appropriate standard of care" after she was admitted to A&E at University Hospital Galway (UHG) on April 17, 2011. He said that, in his view, had she been admitted as an in-patient, instead of being discharged from the hospital, it was "probable she would not have taken her own life".

Ms Cloonan was admitted after taking an overdose of a prescribed medicine. She was seen by Dr Browne, a psychiatrist then employed as a registrar. She was released around midday on April 18. Her body was found the following day at home in Co Galway.

The late Josephine Cloonan
The late Josephine Cloonan

The court heard in the 18 months prior to her death Ms Cloonan suffered from depression and anxiety and made an earlier attempt at suicide.

Mr Cloonan argued the defendants failed to treat her properly and she should have been kept in hospital. The defendants denied the claim, saying they acted in a manner compliant with general and approved psychiatric practice.

The judge said Dr Browne placed an unwarranted reliance on his interview with Ms Cloonan, who had told the doctor that she did not want to be admitted.

Irish Independent

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