The doctor who cleared Howard Hyde's discharge from hospital never would have done so if she’d known he wasn’t going to get psychiatric help, she testified yesterday at the inquiry into the man’s death.
Dr. Janet MacIntyre took full responsibility for discharging the mentally ill man without a psychiatric assessment hours after he had been repeatedly Tasered by police. However, she said Const. John Haislip of Halifax Regoinal Police told her, on advice from a superior, that Hyde would likely see a psychiatrist after his arraignment that morning.
“My understanding was he would go to court, see a judge, a forensic psychiatric assessment would be ordered,” she said.
As a “safety net,” she wrote on Hyde’s medical record that he should be brought back to hospital if he was not going to see a psychiatrist. Haislip gave her the impression that police would carry out her doctor’s order, she claimed.
Hyde, a 45-year-old schizophrenic who was off his medication, was never sent for assessment. Instead he went to Burnside jail, where he died 30 hours after his initial struggle with police.
Court was told police didn’t have the authority to return Hyde to hospital, but MacIntyre said she expected Haislip to tell her if that was the case. If she had known there was a chance Hyde wouldn’t receive psychiatric care, MacIntyre said she would have kept him in hospital.
MacIntyre agreed with fellow emergency room doctor Stephen Curry, who testified Tuesday that the system failed Hyde.
Carol Tooton also spoke at the inquiry on behalf of the Canadian Mental Health Association. During the morning break, Tooton said she was concerned that the doctor discharged Hyde.
“He should have stayed until his physical and mental health was fully evaluated,” Tooton said.
“He was where he needed to be.”