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Family to seek damages after fatal hospital accident?

Family to seek damages after fatal hospital accident?
The family of a man who died while being treated at a hospital in the south of England could pursue a compensation claim on his behalf.

Danny Jewitt passed away at the age of 45 in May 2009 due to the severe chest injuries he sustained when he fell a distance of around five metres from a first floor window in Gillingham's Medway Maritime Hospital.

Mr Jewitt had been admitted to the hospital due to his battle with alcohol dependency and was prone to suffering with episodes of confusion - and an investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) established that the Medway NHS Foundation Trust breached legislation by failing to make sure conditions on his ward were safe.

Under the terms of safety guidelines that came into force in 1989, windows in wards where vulnerable patients are staying should not be opened any wider than ten centimetres in order to prevent falls from occurring.

However, the HSE's analysis found that the window Mr Jewitt fell out of had been left wide open, while a number of other windows on the hospital's Keats ward were also unrestricted.

The Trust also failed to heed an alert issued by the Department of Health in October 2007, in which all NHS institutions were instructed to fit window restrictors on all necessary openings by February 2008 at the latest.

In addition, the hospital had previously identified a large number of defective restrictors but failed to fix or replace these pieces of equipment.

As such, during a case heard at Maidstone Crown Court, the trust was ordered to pay fines totalling more than £61,000 for its negligence in breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Liz Smith, inspector at the HSE, said the accident involving Mr Jewitt had been "entirely preventable", adding: "Had a suitable restrictor been fitted in a timely manner then he would never have fallen in the way he did."

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Posted by Chris Stevenson