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09 Aug 2018

The Queensland Coroner has found that the death of Iranian asylum seeker, Hamid Khazei, was preventable.

In a ruling released on 30 July, the Coroner, Terry Ryan, said: “Consistent with the evidence of the expert witnesses who assisted the court in this matter, I am satisfied that if Mr Khazaei’s clinical deterioration was recognised and responded to in a timely way at the MIRPC clinic, and he was evacuated to Australia within 24 hours of developing severe sepsis, he would have survived.”

Coroner Ryan said it would be possible to characterise the circumstances that led to Mr Khazaei’s death simply as a series of clinical errors, compounded by failures in communication that led to poor handovers and significant delays in his retrieval from Manus Island.

“However, attributing responsibility for those events solely on failures by individual clinicians tasked with his care and others responsible for arranging his transfer from Manus Island is not helpful when looking for ways to prevent similar deaths from happening in future,” the coroner said.

“It is important to consider the broader context in which Mr Khazaei’s death occurred in order to find ways to prevent similar incidents.”

AMA (NSW) President, Dr Kean-Seng Lim, said the Federal Government should accept and implement the recommendations of the Queensland Coroner as soon as possible.

“The first recommendation in the Queensland Coroner’s report is that the health and wellbeing of asylum seekers who need a medical transfer be made the overriding consideration,” Dr Lim said.

“This should have been standard practice before, but it is imperative that the Department for Home Affairs develop and implement this policy now.

“The report also recommends the clinics providing medical services to asylum seekers in regional processing countries be properly accredited.

“Once again, this is something that should have always been the case and needs to be acted on with all haste.

“This is especially important given the description of the initial treating facility Mr Khazaei encountered.

“It has been longstanding AMA policy that asylum seekers should be afforded the same level of care that can be expected in Australia,” Dr Lim said.

Published: 09 Aug 2018