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Hospital Negligence was Contributing Factor in Suicide

27 January 2014

A 44 year old policewoman developed sudden depression and made a suicide attempt at home. Her husband found her and arranged her admission to hospital. She had serious cuts to her forearms. She was initially monitored and then taken to surgery to repair her wounds, explains Clinical Negligence Solicitor Paul Sankey.

She remained on the surgical ward for a further 24 hours. She was not seen by a psychiatrist and no steps were taken to ensure that she was safe from self-harm on the ward. Her husband and step-daughter were refused permission to stay with her overnight and during the early hours of the morning she took her own life in a bathroom off the ward.

An Inquest took place over 3 days and the Coroner criticised serious shortcomings in her management, both in failing to ensure her safety and failing to secure attendance by a psychiatrist. There were clear administrative failures in that ward staff were unaware of protocols for emergency psychiatric referrals, the psychiatric service was not prepared to accept referrals for that day made after 10am and the psychiatric unit's fax machine was kept in an unstaffed room; when a fax was sent no one was available to receive it.

Liability was admitted in response to a letter of claim and the claim was resolved by negotiation, with the Defendants paying damages compensation of £350,000.

Our Clinical & Medical Negligence Solicitors offer a free consultation, call freephone 0808 175 7872 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help.