Man Suffered A Broken Neck After Falling From His Hospital Bed

Medical Law Experts Secure Settlement After NHS Trust Admits Failings

06.12.2013

A former brick layer left with a broken neck after he fell from his hospital bed following a routine knee replacement because staff failed to follow guidelines by ensuring the bed rails were lifted, has spoken of his ‘horrific’ ordeal.

Godfrey Munrowd was forced to have metal screws inserted into his neck after falling from his bed because staff at Worcester Royal Hospital failed to raise the bed rails as he came round from the anaesthetic in February 2012.

The injury has left the 68-year-old unable to return to his job because of ongoing pain and restricted movement and he instructed medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell to help find answers about why more wasn’t done to prevent the fall.

Godfrey, who now lives in Honiton in Devon, is speaking out for the first time after the firm secured him an admission of responsibility from Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust for failing to provide a bed with railings whilst he was in recovery after surgery which resulting in him falling from bed. This was followed by an undisclosed settlement, for the pain and suffering caused by his injuries and to cover his loss of earnings.

The Trust carried out an investigation following the incident which resulted in an urgent action plan being drawn up to prevent the same error from happening again. This included:
• No further patients being transported on beds without rails in place
• All staff being made aware of the Policy for the Safe & Effective use of bed rails
• Amending the theatre check list to include bed rails
• Assessing the number of bed rails in ward areas and transporting patients on trolleys when rails were not available
• Replacing all current beds with profile beds that have rails by the end of 2012

The Trust confirmed all of the recommendations had been implemented apart from the bed replacement action point.

Emma Rush, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office representing Godfrey, said: “The pain and suffering caused to Godfrey could have been completely avoided had nurses followed medical guidelines after his operation that recommend every patient coming round from anaesthetic is given a bed with rails lifted to protect them from harming themselves .

“Godfrey was still very active and was looking forward to going back to work after his recovery; however the neck injury means that he has been forced to give up his profession which has left him devastated.

“We are pleased that the Trust admitted responsibility for the incident and have since implemented an action plan drawn up in a Serious Incident Investigation Report. In cases such as these it is vital that lessons are learnt to prevent similar mistakes being made and we are pleased to see this was the case here.

“We hope the settlement now allows Godfrey to move forward with his life and enjoy spending time with his family.”

Godfrey had a CT scan following his accident which revealed a fracture in his neck caused by his fall and he was taken into surgery where the fracture was stabilised and two screws were inserted his neck.

Godfrey said: “When I woke from surgery I was in agony with a pain in my neck, which I obviously didn’t expect having had knee surgery.

“When the nurses told me I had fallen from my bed I was absolutely horrified and couldn’t understand why more wasn’t done to prevent it from happening.

“The impact to my life of my treatment at the Worcester Royal Hospital has been devastating. I am now not able to work as I am still in a lot of pain and have restricted movement in my neck and also cannot sleep very well as it is difficult to find a comfortable position.

“I was determined to see justice and am very relieved that the Trust has admitted responsibility for its error and my legal team at Irwin Mitchell have managed to secure a fair settlement. Nothing can turn back the clock or make up for what happened but I hope that I can now begin to move forward with my life and that the Trust continues to follow the action plan to prevent anyone else from going through a similar ordeal.”