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Girl's death prompts hospital inquiry -

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LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: An inquest into the death of a 14-year-old girl has begun in Alice Springs.

The girl was bashed and sexually assaulted after walking out of the Alice Springs Hospital in
January 2006.

Her death has exposed faults in the hospital's handling of patients who leave without permission.

Kirsty Nancarrow reports.

KIRSTY NANCARROW, REPORTER: The teenager was brought to the Alice Springs Hospital with a nosebleed
that wouldn't stop. Less than a week later she was dead.

She was diagnosed with a blood disorder and admitted to the medical ward because she was deemed too
old for the children's unit.

She left the hospital without permission and was found unconscious near a school the next day.
She'd been attacked twice, and died from a head injury.

Police were told the girl was missing 24 hours after she was last seen in the hospital. Nursing
staff told the inquest it's common for patients to be away from their beds and didn't initially
realise she was missing.

The council assisting the coroner said staff should have contacted police immediately because the
girl was underage and at risk because of her medical condition:

"Little was done during that shift, in terms of complying with the hospital policy in relation to
(the deceased) being absent from the ward."

KIRSTY NANCARROW: The night shift nurse coordinator at the time Alvin Ching told the inquest he
didn't call police because he thought someone on the previous shift had done so.

He said the Alice Springs Hospital has since put up flow charts of what to do when patients
abscond.

Five people were sentenced in the Supreme Court earlier this year in relation to two attacks on the
girl.

Two teenagers were given community work orders for assault and three others are serving jail terms
for attempted rape.

The inquest will resume tomorrow.

Kirsty Nancarrow, ABC News, Alice Springs.