We settled a claim against Surrey and Sussex NHS Foundation Trust for a 53 year old woman who suffered a significant fall when she was a patient at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.
Our client attended A&E following repeated episodes of severe rectal bleeding after a haemorrhoidectomy operation. While in A&E she continued to have further episodes of rectal bleeding which made her feel dizzy and light-headed. She was placed on a trolley bed in a cubicle that night without any patient call bell within reach and was not observed for several hours for signs of further haemorrhaging.
Believing she had begun to bleed again and having no means to summon assistance, our client got up from the trolley bed, fainted immediately and fell forwards. She was knocked unconscious in the fall and suffered significant maxillo-facial injuries, including loss and displacement of her front upper teeth, a broken nose and fractured upper jaw, facial lacerations and bruising.
Our client underwent maxillo-facial surgery under general anaesthetic and required significant dental treatment. She has also been left with cosmetic defects to her nose.
We alleged that the Royal Sussex County Hospital breached its duty of care in three key areas. It failed to show our client the patient call bell and how to use it, to appreciate the risk that she might suffer a further bleed and faint, and to begin regular observations that would have revealed further signs of haemorrhage.
Liability for the claim was initially disputed and our client commenced formal court proceedings. The claim was subsequently settled out of court after the defendants accepted an offer made by the claimant.