Death of Iranian refugee on Manus preventable, says coroner

3:36 pm on 30 July 2018

A Queensland coroner has found the death of an Iranian refugee on Manus Island was "entirely preventable" and due to the "compounding effect of multiple errors".

Hamid Khazaei

Hamid Khazaei Photo: supplied

Hamid Kehazaei died in a Brisbane Hospital in 2014 after he contracted a leg infection in the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea.

Mr Kehazaei's life support was switched off in 2014 after he suffered a series of heart attacks and organ failure arising from the routine infection.

During an inquest last year, several doctors said the 24-year-old's death was entirely preventable, and he would have been alive if the Australian government had acted sooner.

They said it took more than a day after doctors on Manus Island said he needed hospital-level care for him to be transferred to Port Moresby, where he continued to languish with inadequate care.

Coroner Terry Ryan said no suitable antibiotic was available at the Manus Island clinic to treat the range of infections commonly found in a tropical setting, while the doctors at Port Moresby did not have the skills to treat Mr Khazaei properly.

By the time he was finally medivacced to Brisbane, he was in a critical condition.

"I am satisfied that if Mr. Khazaei's clinical deterioration was recognised and responded to in a timely way at the Manus Island regional processing center clinic and he was evacuated to Australia within 24 hours of developing severe sepsis, he would have survived," Mr Ryan said in his findings on Mr Khazaei's death.

As the coroner read out his findings, protesters were picketing outside the court, saying the responsibility for Mr Kehazaei's death ultimately rested with the Australian government's offshore detention policy.

"It would be possible to prevent further deaths by relocating asylum seekers to other places like Australia and New Zealand," he said.

But Mr Ryan acknowledged this was "highly unlikely" without a substantial revision of Australia's detention policy.

-RNZ / ABC / Reuters

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