Psychiatric hospitals have been urged to strengthen communication with patients' families after an inmate killed himself during home leave. The Hospital Authority's public complaints committee said a complaint that hospital mismanagement had led to the patient's suicide was partially substantiated. It also partially substantiated another complaint that a hospital failed to detect a woman's ovarian cancer. The two cases were among 1,705 complaints received by public hospitals last year, a 13 per cent drop on 1998. Half of the complaints were against doctors and a quarter against nurses. There were 24,293 expressions of appreciation for good service to the authority, an increase of 15 per cent. Among the 43 investigations concluded by the committee between April and December, only two were substantiated and five partially substantiated. It said the psychiatric patient was admitted to hospital in October 1998 and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and mild-grade mental retardation. He was given home leave between December 18 and 28 but was unable to contact his relatives. The hospital's occupational therapist later failed to find the patient on a home visit. He was found hanged on December 26. The committee recommended hospitals improve liaison with relatives during home leave and educate them to spot signs of relapse. In another case, a woman was admitted to an emergency room on May 2, 1998, with abdominal pain and vomiting. It was thought she had appendicitis. Two days later she appeared to be suffering either acute non-specific abdominal pain or inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Her condition deteriorated the next day and ultrasound tests detected ovarian cancer. She died on May 7. The committee said an earlier consultation by gynaecologists would have been more appropriate. Among the 44 public hospitals, Castle Peak topped the list of complaints, with 36.9 per 1,000 patients discharged.