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Mrs Smith, who was aged 70 at the time of her operation, underwent a right knee replacement which was successful. The next day, Mrs Smith requested to go to the toilet and was put on a bedpan on a chair next to her bed. This was contrary to nursing guidelines.
Mrs Smith was left alone on the bedpan balancing on the chair. She felt dizzy and then fell from the chair and suffered severe injury. She suffered a fracture to her right femur, and also fractured her left dominant wrist. She had to undergo surgery the next day to repair the damage which had been caused to her leg which had already been operated on.
As a consequence of this simple nursing error, Mrs Smith’s recovery from her original knee replacement surgery was severely affected such that she required significantly more ongoing care. She also had to move to single storey accommodation because she could not get upstairs to bed anymore and she needed adaptations so that she could use the bathroom and get in and out of her house. The retirement plans that she and her husband had were spoiled and she was not able to get home to see her family in Ireland without a great deal of effort because of her restricted mobility.
Sarah Corser, a specialist solicitor in medical law at Access Legal, investigated the claim for Mrs Smith and wrote to the hospital. The hospital admitted the use of a bedpan on a chair and then leaving Mrs Smith all on her own was inappropriate and caused Mrs Smith’s injuries. It was also admitted that as a result of the fall, Mrs Smith required the extra care and move to another home. The claim finally settled in Mrs Smith’s favour for a six figure sum.