Family win settlement after frail patients fall at Princess Alexandra Hospital

News / Wed 1st Oct 2014 at 11:31am

LEADING medical negligence solicitors have achieved a substantial settlement for the family of an elderly woman patient who died as a result of the substandard care she received at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow.

Essex & Herts solicitors Attwaters Jameson Hill acted for the family of Sylvia Page who died in July 2013. She had been admitted to the hospital following a fall at her home on 25 June.

On 1 July, she was moved from a ward to a side room. As she was unsteady on her feet, the hospital had provided her with a walking frame. However, although the hospital was aware of her infirmity, they failed to carry out the risk assessment required when moving a frail patient to a new environment.

Following the move, a student nurse tried to help Sylvia from her bed to a commode a few steps away, but being unsteady on her feet, she fell and struck her head. The nurse, who had merely had hold of Sylvia’s hands, was unable to prevent her fall. Sylvia’s condition deteriorated and she became unconscious. An X-ray revealed bleeding on the brain. Sadly, she died on 3 July.

At the inquest held into Sylvia Page’s death at the Chelmsford Coroner’s Court, the Coroner found that no risk assessment had been carried out prior to her move to the side room. In addition, the student nurse had used poor technique and had been inadequately supervised and monitored.

Commenting on this case and other similar tragedies, David Kerry, Senior Partner and Head of the Clinical Negligence department at Attwaters Jameson Hill, said: “This sad case is yet another example of the poor and inadequate care that is too often provided to the elderly by the NHS. Increasingly, we are seeing cases where elderly patients have suffered falls whilst in hospital and, as a consequence, suffer serious injury that sometimes results in their death.

“This neglect can take many forms. For instance, too many elderly patients develop pressure sores as a result of inadequate nursing care. These should be largely preventable in this day and age.

“A few years ago I dealt with a harrowing case involving a dementia patient who had been strapped into a chair and left to sit in his own urine.

“It’s nothing short of a national disgrace that the elderly, many of whom have made a massive contribution to this country, are subjected to such poor treatment in their later lives. The NHS simply does not provide sufficient care or compassion. At a basic level, training can be inadequate and supervision of front-line staff non-existent.

“Sylvia Page’s family were devastated at her loss. Her two sons, grandchildren and great grandchildren will remember her for her love of life and independence. It makes it all the more sad that when she needed to
depend on others, she was so badly let down.”

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