Hospital negligence leads to death of patient

By Blackwater Law

Hospital negligence claim experts were recently shocked to discover the case of a 78 year old dementia patient, who was found dead in hospital, in a bath full of water.

Mrs Joan Darnell was admitted to Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust on the 28th September 2014, on the specialist Blicking Ward. She was reported missing on the 16 October 2016, and later found face down in a bath full of water. The trust was later fined £366,000 for the provision of improper care which it was determined contributed to her death.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive into the circumstances of Mrs Darnell’s death found that the Trust had failed to implement sufficient care practices or policies to protect vulnerable patients, and that the appropriate risk-assessment procedures had not been undertaken to protect Mrs Darnell prior to her death. Concerns were also highlighted to the effect that vulnerable patients such as Mrs Darnell, and others with mental health conditions, were not adequately monitored during the course of their residence on the ward.

Specifically, the Trust was found to have violated Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.  Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust were ordered to pay £12,888.48 in legal costs in addition to the aforementioned fine as a result of their failings.

Anthony Brookes of health regulator Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued the following statement in relation to the case:

“This was a tragic and preventable death. Had the trust put in place the correct procedures for the staff to manage the risks to vulnerable patients Mrs Darnell may still be alive. It is vital that patients’ needs are taking into consideration and Hospital Trust’s carry out appropriate risk assessments. They need to make sure the correct work systems are put in place to ensure they are managed but also appropriately monitored.”

The case emerges at a time when both Labour and Conservative politicians have pledged additional funding for the provision of mental health services. Nonetheless, these sectors remain under intense pressure at NHS trusts across the country, prompting concern that additional mental health claims could be seen in the wake of further failures in care provision. The team at Blackwater Law note an increase in enquiries relating to mental health care provision in recent months.

These mental health claims are not restricted to the likes of accidental death or failure to undertake adequate risk assessment in relation to patients. The medical negligence solicitors at Blackwater Law have also observed alarmingly high rates of falls, inter-patient or inter-resident violence, abuse on the part of care staff, malnutrition amongst the patient population and countless other forms of substandard care provision in care homes. All of these can constitute care home negligence, and as such could provide grounds for a compensation claim being made against the service provider.

If your family member has suffered substandard care on a mental health ward, or whilst in a care home, you could be entitled to make a medical negligence compensation claim care home negligence claim. For more information or for free initial advice and guidance from a specialist solicitor, contact Blackwater Law medical negligence solicitors on 0800 083 5500.


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