Health and Safety News

Occupational health and safety news and guidance

Healthcare provider prosecuted after patient death

A  national healthcare provider has been fined £100,000 after an elderly patient died at a private hospital in High Wycombe.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted BMI Healthcare Limited for safety failings that led to the death of Michael Walsh, 85, from Beaconsfield, in Buckinghamshire.

On 18 July, Amersham Crown Court heard that Mr. Walsh was admitted to Shelburne Hospital, on Queen Alexandra Road, on 10 February 2009 for an operation. He had  a private room on the first floor which had a pair of sliding patio style doors  leading onto a small balcony.

Three days after the operation Mr Walsh had begun to suffer with periods of confusion and disorientation. The following evening he was found outside on the ground  beneath the balcony. He had fallen three-and-a-half metres and had suffered  injuries including a fractured vertebra. He was taken to Wexham Park Hospital where he died  two days later.

The HSE investigation found that the hospital had not assessed the risks of patients falling from balconies in private rooms, or, taken adequate measures to control this risk.

BMI Healthcare Limited, of Thameside Centre, Kew Bridge Road, Brentford, Hounslow, London, pleaded guilty to breaching  Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. In addition to the £100,000 fine, the company was also ordered to pay costs of £29,447. 


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