Nelsons represented Mrs G to investigate a clinical negligence claim against Gregory Court Care Home Nottingham (part of The Disabilities Trust) following the death of her husband, Mr G, whilst he was a resident there.
Following a stroke in 2000, Mr G moved into Gregory Court Care Home as he required assistance from carers to mobilise in and out of his wheelchair, among other daily tasks. Specifically, Mr G needed to be transferred by hoist between his bed and wheelchair, wheelchair to a shower chair and shower chair to bed.
In February 2017, Mr G had his usual shower with the assistance of two carers. Following this, he was going to be hoisted from the shower chair to his bed to finish getting dressed. This was a routine procedure for him and was well established at the care home. There were care plans and risk assessments in place dealing with the appropriate level of care required for such manoeuvres. During this manoeuvre, Mr G fell one metre out of the sling attached to the hoist and onto the floor.
Following the fall, Mr G complained of pain in his left hip and increasing shortness of breath. Following assessment at the hospital, Mr G was diagnosed with a fracture on the left side of his pelvis.
Unfortunately, due to his pre-existing health conditions, Mr G was not a suitable candidate for major surgery on his pelvis. In the circumstances, doctors decided that he would be managed conservatively and were to remain on bed rest for six to eight weeks. However, Mr G’s condition deteriorated significantly. His pre-existing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was exacerbated following the fall and he developed a severe chest infection. He unfortunately then developed sepsis. Mr G was kept comfortable and eventually put on the End of Life care pathway. Mr G sadly passed away less than two weeks after the fall occurred.
An inquest took place to investigate how Mr G died. The carers involved in his care on the day of the fall gave conflicting evidence about what happened during the hoisting manoeuvre. Following the hearing and based on all of the evidence available, the Coroner made the following findings of fact:
- Mr G died as a result of suffering a fractured pelvis when he fell from an incorrectly fastened sling whilst being hoisted at Gregory Court Care Home.
- There was no mechanical failure with the hoist or sling and therefore the accident happened as a result of the actions and/or inactions of one or both carers present at the time of the incident.
- The immediate cause of the fall was a mistake in the fastening up of the leg straps on the hoist. The loops on the hoist were not attached to the tracking hoist correctly. His legs had not been secured, the straps had not been fitted correctly or checked and as a result, when the hoisting manoeuvre began, he fell to the floor.
- One of the two carers present (an agency employed carer) had not read the relevant care plan, had not been given an induction and had not used this specific type of hoist before.
During the subsequent civil claim for damages, we were able to establish that there was negligent handling of Mr G when the sling was incorrectly fastened, causing him to fall to the ground. As a direct result of this negligence, he suffered a fractured pelvis which could not be surgically repaired. He did not recover from his injury which contributed to his general decline in health. But for the negligence, he would have recovered from his chest infection and would not have died when he did.
Baishali Clayton (Senior Associate) and Shrdha Kapoor (Trainee Solicitor) in our Medical Negligence team settled the claim out of Court for a five-figure sum. The sum awarded to our client encompassed the following losses as a result of the care home’s negligence:
- A sum to reflect Mr G’s pain, suffering and loss of amenity during the period immediately following the fall up to his death (known as general damages).
- A statutory bereavement award – a fixed sum awarded to Mrs G as the wife of the Deceased by virtue of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. Mrs G was entitled to this award because we were able to prove a causative link with death.
- Other expenses such as funeral expenses, gratuitous care costs and travel expenses (known as special damages).
Although in this tragic case financial compensation could not make up for the devastating and untimely loss suffered by our client and her family, by going through the investigative process we were able to provide them with much-needed answers to their questions about how this could have happened to their husband and father.