Man sues HSE over wife's death by suicide

A man whose wife took her own life the day after she was discharged from a hospital after initially being admitted for taking an overdose of pills has sued the HSE in the High Court, writes Ann O'Loughlin.

Angelo Cloonan told Mr Justice Michael Hanna he still cannot believe his wife of 25 years Josephine died by suicide on April 19, 2011.

Josephine, also known as Josie, was admitted to the A&E Department at University Hospital Galway two days earlier after she took an overdose of prescribed medicine.

She was seen by a psychiatrist at the hospital the following morning and was discharged around midday on April 18.

Her body was discovered at the Cloonan's home in Ballinfoyle Park, Headford Road, Galway the following day.

Mr Cloonan has sued the HSE West and psychiatrist Dr Kishan Browne, who at the relevant time was employed as a registrar at University Hospital, Galway for allegedly failing to treat her properly.

He claims she should have been kept in the hospital and not discharged home following her overdose.

Mr Cloonan is seeking damages for mental distress.

He has claimed there was an alleged failure to provide his late wife with proper medical care and there was an alleged failure to properly assess her.

He has further claimed there was an alleged failure to insist she be kept in hospital as an in-patient.

It is also alleged she was discharged from the hospital when she allegedly should not have been.

The claims are denied.

Patrick Hanratty SC for the defendants told the court that it is the doctor's case that after speaking to Mr and Mrs Cloonan on April 18 they had opted for her to go home and that they did not opt to have her admitted as an in-patient.

In his evidence to court, Mr Cloonan told Mr Mcguire that this was not what happened.

Dr Browne had recorded that Josie was "pleasant and chatty" when he spoke to her.

Mr Cloonan said she was "not pleasant at all" that morning, and described her as being out of it and not fully aware of her surroundings.

He said Dr Browne spoke to his wife in a room for about 20 minutes and then spoke to both of them.

Mr Cloonan said Dr Browne told him that his wife was fine, was sorry for what she had done, and could go home.

The doctor, he said, then wrote down a phone number of a piece of paper for a psychiatric day care service in Galway which the Cloonan's were to contact so they could make an appointment.

Mr Cloonan said he wanted his wife to be kept in hospital for at least 24 hours.

He said his wife had been good until 2010 when an investigation into allegations that Josephine and another person had been sexually abused during her childhood took place.

He said the investigation involved the gardaí taking a statement from her in relation to the allegations.

Mr Cloonan said that this had distressed Josie greatly, and resulted in her "not being herself".

She had been on medication for anxiety and depression.

Under cross-examination from Mr Hanratty, Mr Cloonan denied his version of events had become "distorted".

Mr Cloonan said he did not accept Dr Browne’s version of events of the morning of April 18.

However he accepted he had not challenged Dr Browne's version of events of that morning at the inquest into Josie's death.

Mr Cloonan said he did not object because he was too upset that day due to his wife's death.

He did accept that personal details concerning his wife recorded by Dr Browne were accurate, but said certain details were not correct.

The case continues and is expected to last for several days.

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