Mother Breaks Shoulder And Ribs In Ordeal As Seriously Ill Son Watches On
Lawyers representing a mother-of-two injured when a wall-mounted bed at a Surrey hospital collapsed sending her crashing to the floor suffering severe shoulder injuries have called for the NHS Trust to ensure it carries out regular safety checks on all equipment installed in wards.
Laura Andrews, 40, from Sevenoaks, Kent suffered a broken shoulder and fractured ribs in the incident at The Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton in July last year, which happened in front of her terrified seven-year-old son who was awaiting a bone marrow transplant as part of treatment for leukaemia.
As well as suffering excruciating pain, the ordeal left the civil servant from Sevenoaks facing a tough time trying to both look after herself and her child as she struggled with the use of her arm. She continues to have problems with potential nerve damage, affecting the use of her fingers.
Now, after receiving an admission of liability from Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust with the help of injury specialists at Irwin Mitchell, Laura is calling for hospitals across the country to learn lessons from her ordeal and undertake regular assessments on facilities to ensure they are always safe for use.
Alicia Townsend, a personal injury expert at Irwin Mitchell, represented Laura and her family in her claim against the NHS Trust. She said: “This was an awful incident which raises serious concerns in relation to the safety of equipment such as wall-mounted beds that are very common in hospitals up and down the country.
“It is not just the manner of the incident which is so disturbing; it is that it happened in what is supposed to be a safe environment where care is provided to children suffering from serious illnesses. We hope that the NHS Trust will now make sure they undertake proper assessments and maintenance following this awful case to prevent similar problems from happening in the future.”
Mrs Andrews was on compassionate leave from her job with the Metropolitan Police when the incident happened while she was staying in the McElwain Children’s Ward at The Royal Marsden Hospital with her son Ellis.
She outlined: “All of my attention was focused on Ellis at that point, as we were waiting for him to be given a bone marrow transplant to help him in his battle against a rare form of leukaemia.
“The beds for parents in the children’s ward were fixed to the walls and you pulled them down to sleep on them before folding them back up in the morning. They were quite heavy, but you’d never expect that to mean they were a danger.”
Laura was getting her son’s clothes out of a drawer when the bed came crashing down from the wall, struck her back and shoulder and threw her across where her son’s bed was.
“I was just completely stunned and in absolute agony but, again, my first thought was about Ellis – he was terrified by what had happened and completely distraught,” she recalls. “Fortunately a nurse witnessed everything and came running in immediately to help me.”
After being transferred to St Hellier Hospital in Surrey, she was diagnosed with a cracked shoulder blade and two fractured ribs. She also continues to have limited feeling in two of her fingers, which may be a result of nerve damage.
She explains: “The accident really threw everything up in their air when it came to ensuring Ellis got the attention he needed. My husband, who was also on compassionate leave from work, had a hell of a time having to take care of him, me and also our other son.
“We managed to get through the difficult few months after the incident, but I couldn’t help but think all of the pain and disruption we faced could have been avoided in the first place. Meetings related to the incident really messed up our schedule and took a toll on the amount of time we had to spend with Ellis.
“Now, I only hope that both The Royal Marsden Hospital and other sites across the UK are taking steps to ensure other people aren’t facing the same risks.
“I really shudder to think what the consequences could have been if a child – even mine – had been struck by the bed. It’s truly awful to think about.”
Alicia Townsend adds: “Following the admission of liability, we are now awaiting medical evidence which will go towards ensuring Laura and her family gain access to funds which will help with her rehabilitation following the incident.
“However, this is also about gaining reassurances that the same circumstances will not be seen again. It is another example of a situation where someone has suffered an injury through no fault of their own and there is a clear need for an indication that such problems will not be repeated.”