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NHS Trust Fined Over Patient’s Fall From Window

Legal Expert Calls For Lessons To Be Learned From Incident


By Rob Dixon

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has been fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs after a patient suffered serious injuries when she fell from an unrestricted hospital window.

The unnamed patient suffered serious back injuries and a punctured lung in the incident at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds in September 2011 and is continuing to suffer health problems as a result of the injuries.

In a hearing at the town’s magistrates’ court, it was revealed that in a state of confusion she attempted to escape from the hospital via the first floor window.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive deemed that the hospital’s efforts to manage such risks were inadequate, particularly pinpointing the lack of a restrictor on the window where the incident occurred. Further investigations by the Trust also highlight issues with restrictors elsewhere on the site.

David Urpeth, an expert in serious injury and public liability claims at Irwin Mitchell, said it was vital that all NHS Trusts learn lessons from the incident to ensure patient safety comes first.

He outlined: “Like many of the cases we act in, this incident highlights how even the simplest safety measures could have prevented someone suffering very serious injuries which to continue to impact on their life.

“We would urge NHS Trusts and other organisations responsible for safety in public buildings to pay major attention to this incident and subsequent investigation, with an ultimate aim to ensure that health and safety is the top priority on their sites.

“Such a step would play a huge part in ensuring that the terrible circumstances seen in this case are not repeated.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise related to Accidents in Public Places claims