‘Someone needs to be held to account’: Inquest into Indigenous man’s death
A coroner will examine the care provided to an Indigenous man who died hours after he was discharged from a hospital in western NSW.
Ricky “Dougie” Hampson Jr, a Kamilaroi and Dunghutti man, died less than 24 hours after he was discharged from Dubbo Base Hospital in August 2021.
Ricky “Dougie” Hampson died in August 2021.
According to his family, the 36-year-old had complained of severe stomach pain and a popping or tearing sensation in his abdomen when he went to the hospital at 5.12pm on August 14. He was given painkillers overnight before being released at about lunchtime on August 15.
The next morning, he was found dead from two perforated ulcers.
Hampson’s mother, Lidia Chatfield, father Rick Hampson Snr and other members of his family have campaigned for months for an inquest into his death, which they believe was avoidable.
The family claim the father of eight was not given proper treatment because hospital staff were aware he had used cannabis, which affected their diagnosis and treatment and led them to make premature conclusions.
On Monday, Hampson’s family confirmed that an inquest will be held, saying they were pleased with the decision which represented a weight lifted off their shoulders.
They had raised awareness about their son’s case through an online petition, which attracted more than 13,000 signatures, as well as press conferences and a march outside Dubbo Hospital.
“Someone needs to be held to account – because there was a lot of things that went wrong,” the family said in a statement. “The hospital just ignored him, they judged him on his presentation and the way he looked.”
The family will advocate for systemic change in the NSW healthcare system, including the use of Aboriginal liaison officers who are available 24 hours a day, and greater education for hospital staff so First Nations patients can receive culturally appropriate care.
Western NSW Health, which runs Dubbo Hospital, previously offered its sincere condolences to Hampson’s family and confirmed it was assisting with the coronial process.
Inquests typically examine the manner and cause of a person’s death, with a coroner able to make recommendations if it is considered that something should change to prevent a similar death in the future.
Hampson’s family will hold a media conference at NSW Parliament on Monday alongside Greens MLC Sue Higginson and lawyer George Newhouse from the National Justice Project.
The inquest is expected to be held some time in 2023.
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