Faysal Ishak Ahmed: Coroner to examine 2017 death of Manus Island refugee

A coroner will examine the circumstances of the death of a refugee who died following a fatal fall while detained on Manus Island.

Health experts have raised concerns about the medical care provided to a refugee who died after a fatal fall while detained on Manus Island before he was evacuated to Australia, a court has been told.

Faysal Ishak Ahmed was only 27 when he suffered a critical head injury in December 2016, dying in a Brisbane hospital days later.

A coroner will now probe the circumstances of Ahmed’s death, including whether or not there were any preventable delays in evacuating him from the island to Australia and if the medical care he received was adequate.

Ahmed, from Sudan, had been detained on Manus Island since 2013.

On December 22, 2016 he suffered a life-threatening head injury after falling down a flight of stairs about 10.17pm.

It was determined Ahmed needed urgent medical evacuation to Australia but this did not occur until 2.15pm on the following day.

Despite attempts to keep him alive, Ahmed passed away in Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital on December 24.

During a pre-inquest conference on Friday, counsel assisting the coroner Rhiannon Helsen said Ahmed was found to have suffered a traumatic brain injury after his fall.

“He was also suffering from acute pneumonia and multi-organ failure secondary to this head injury,” she said.

The inquest itself will examine the adequacy and appropriateness of the medical care Ahmed received while detained on the island, and on the day of his fall until he was medically evacuated.

It will also examine whether there was an avoidable delay in Ahmed’s evacuation to Australia and the appropriateness of Manus Island’s medical evacuation policies.

On Friday the court was told Ahmed had frequently been assessed by medical staff on the island, complaining of gastric symptoms, kidney pain, chronic sinusitis, mental health issues and chest pains.

Days before his death, Ahmed had complained of shortness of breath and chest pains.

“None of the clinical examinations, pathology studies, or biochemistry studies had demonstrated any objective evidence of a physical cause of the symptoms,” Ms Helsen said.

“It was thought by staff and agreed to by the senior medical officer that Mr Ishak Ahmed’s recent complaints were likely somatic in nature, or a manifestation of anxiety.

Ms Helsen said an expert report from Dr Anthony Brown raised “some concerns” on the adequacy of the general medical care Ahmed received while at the detention centre.

Another medical expert raised “a number of questions” about the response of medical staff following his collapse.

Ms Helsen said further records and statements were still outstanding along with additional medical evidence.

A further pre-inquest conference has been listed for May 18.

The “adequacy and appropriateness of any steps taken by the International Health and Medical Services or Department of Immigration and Border Protection, to prevent a similar death from occurring” will also be looked at.

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