September 20, 2008
Hospital Bosses Admit Neglect
By Alison Dayani HEALTH CORRESPONDANT
BIRMINGHAM hospital bosses have admitted flouting health and safety rules after the death of an elderly patient who fell out of a hoist and banged her head on the floor.
South Birmingham Primary Care Trust (PCT) which runs Moseley Hall Hospital pleaded guilty to a Health and Safety Act charge over failing to ensure the correct size and type of sling was used on patients and not communicating this information to staff.
The PCT now faces a penalty of thousands of pounds in fines and costs.
Frail 90-year-old patient Alice Bell was being lifted from a commode back to bed in a sling that was too big for her by two temporary bank nurses when the accident happened, Birmingham magistrates court heard yesterday.
Mr Adam Farrer, representing the Health and Safety Executive, said Mrs Bell fell through a gap in the sling, hit her head on the floor and died at the hospital, in Alcester Road, Moseley, in March 2006.
"Mrs Bell weighed only seven and a half stone," said Mr Farrer. "She needed assistance because she had an unpredictable sitting balance.
"The directions lacked any detail for the type or size of sling when lifting Mrs Bell into position.
"The risk of patients in slings that are too big is widely known but is easily avoidable with a simple system. Slings are now allocated on an individual patient basis but at that time there were not enough slings for each patient to have their own so there was a more random haphazard system."
Experts said it was likely Mrs Bell died of an impact to the head but it was also possible she died of natural causes which led to her slipping.
Moira Dumma, chief executive of the PCT was in court along with Mrs Bell's two granddaughters.
Bernard Thorogood, representing the hospital, said: "The PCT has made a frank acceptance that within a well organised system, there was a fault that the size of slings had not been specified."
District Judge Khalid Qureshi adjourned the case to consider whether to transfer sentencing to the Crown Court.
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