Restrained man died from 'existing health conditions'

00:36, May 31 2014

A hospitalised Timaru man who died after being restrained and given a sedative, died of existing health conditions, a coroner has found.

Roger Thompson, 68, died on April 21, 2012.

Coroner Richard McElrea released his findings yesterday.

Thompson was admitted to Timaru Hospital on April 19 with shortness of breath, having suffered a heart attack.

At 10.40pm on April 21, he became agitated and refused oxygen therapy and started removing oxygen tubes. He wanted to self-discharge, which staff advised against. He was then restrained by staff and given 5mg of a sedative. After two minutes he became unconscious and went into cardiac arrest. He could not be revived and after 45 minutes was declared dead.

The coroner found his existing health conditions caused his death, rather than the sedative or being restrained.


"He had a background of cardiac problems which made him susceptible to death at any time.

"He became aggressive and unreasonable and asked to take his own discharge. Expert opinion at the inquest is that it is common to observe extreme agitation in patients with breathlessness caused by severe cardiac failure. This is particularly so when cardiac arrest is imminent.

"After appropriate attempts at de-escalation and involvement of relevant health professionals, he was restrained on the bed and admitted a form of chemical restraint.

"He suffered almost immediate onset of unconsciousness. I accept expert opinion that the unconsciousness is highly unlikely to have been caused by the drug, due to slow absorption."

The Timaru Herald