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Questions after death of mental health patient Scott O'Rourke

More should have been done to help a mental health patient who died after taking a cocktail of prescription and illicit drugs.

That is the message from Deborah Coaten, former partner of Scott O'Rourke who was found dead at The Shrubbery care home in Frindsbury Road, Rochester, in February, aged just 41.

An inquest ruled his death was "drug-related" after hearing he had been prescribed a high dose of schizophrenia drug clozapine, along with other medication, but had then taken cocaine too.

Scott O'Rourke with his son 20 years ago
Scott O'Rourke with his son 20 years ago

But Miss Coaten believes the clozapine had a bigger impact on existing health problems such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and that Mr O'Rourke should have been monitored more closely.

Miss Coaten, 47, who is a mental health worker herself, said she felt he had been put on far too much clozapine.

She said: “There were a lot of side affects - falling asleep, always being sick, trouble with breathing. I just feel he was let down.”

She believes doctors who saw Mr O'Rourke for health issues at hospital had felt his clozapine dose was too high, but he was put back on the same dose when he was discharged.

She added: “Maybe he could have been put in a secure unit while they changed his medication levels, so if he was feeling paranoid he would have been in the right environment.”

And she said Mr O'Rourke had only just begun to rekindle his relationship with his son, having been released from prison following an arson conviction in 2014.

"There were a lot of side affects - falling asleep, always being sick, trouble with breathing... I just feel he was let down" - Deborah Coaten

“His son really misses him,” she added.

“He was popular with the other residents and he was a really nice person. People said they missed his laughter.

"It was just like a light had gone out. He was a fun person to be with.”

Samantha Graham, head of communications for Langley House Trust, which runs the care home, said staff were deeply saddened by Mr O’Rourke's death and that his passing was a great loss to all.

She added: “We have responded in full to all the requests for information from the coroner’s office.

"We have worked closely with other agencies ensuring specialist advice was followed.

"We have not received any subsequent requests for information.

"Our heartfelt sympathy continues to go to his family and loved ones.”

Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust spokesperson said: “We were truly saddened at the death of Mr O’Rourke and offer his loved ones our sincerest condolences.

“Mr O’Rourke’s clinical team had known him for a number of years and had worked with him to ensure that his wish of being able to live independently in the community, was fulfilled.”

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