Care homes and hospitals have a duty to look after your family members, provide them with a high standard of care and meet their basic needs. Deciding to put a relative in a care home or hospital can be a difficult and upsetting decision to make, which means it is all the more devastating if you discover that the care providers you put your trust in have provided care that is not only below the expected standard, but is degrading, neglectful and in the worst cases life-threatening.
If you’re reading this you are most likely a family member or friend of a loved one who has suffered an injury within a residential care home or hospital, or you might be a care provider who has been injured whilst at work. At Rothera Sharp our Personal Injury team’s main priority is ensuring that people who have been injured in a care home or hospital, through no fault of their own, receive the justice they deserve. Although financial compensation can help we also understand that receiving other provisions and accommodations that will make life a bit easier for the injured party can be just as important, and we treat each case with compassion and sensitivity. Call us today on 0115 9100 600 or email email@example.com
Types of Care Home and Hospital Injury and the amounts of compensation you could receive
Slips, trips and falls
A trip or fall is one of the most common types of injury that can occur in care homes, hospices and hospitals. Experience shows that people in residential and nursing homes face a higher risk of fracturing a bone or being involved in a fall than any other type of patient.
A slip, trip or fall could occur in a care home or hospital due to misplaced objects, slippery floors, falling due to being unassisted whilst using the facilities and falls out of bed due to a lack of railings and assistance not being provided.
The nature of injuries arising from slips, trips and falls can result in a wide range of settlement figures. Here are some examples of the amounts of compensation received for these types of injuries:
- Care home ordered to pay £163,185 after resident dies in bed fall due to bed railing safety failure: https://www.carehome.co.uk/news/article.cfm/id/1583661/Care-home-owner-fined-163000-after-98-year-olds-bed-fall-death
- Carer awarded £50,000 compensation after plunging down a lift shaft at a nursing home in a fall where her patient died: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-35222357
- Care home ordered to pay out £30,000 after a resident fell down a flight of stairs: https://www.nottinghampost.com/news/local-news/woodthorpe-view-care-home-owners-2634023
Pressure ulcers and bed sores grade 1-4
Pressure ulcers, pressure sores or bedsores occur when pressure is placed on a particular area of a person’s skin, usually due to being immobile for some time. Care providers in care homes and hospitals are responsible for preventing ulcers from forming by providing an appropriate bed or regularly moving a patient, however if a care provider neglects this duty, pressure ulcers can quickly form, which can be dangerous as well as painful and in some cases lead to septicaemia, cellulitis, bone and joint infections or gas gangrene.
Pressure ulcers are graded by reference from 1-4 of the European Pressure Ulcer (EUPAP) Grading System:
Grade 1 – the affected area of skin will be red in white people and purple, or blue in people with darker skin.
Grade 2 – the ulcer looks like an open wound, or a blister.
Grade 3 – the ulcer appears as a deep cavity like wound.
Grade 4 – tissue necrosis develops. There is a high risk of developing a life threatening infection, such as sepsis.
Depending on the severity of a pressure ulcer injury, compensation can vary significantly. Examples include:
- Care home pays out five-figure settlement after neglect of patient who suffered infection and severe bedsores:https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/huddersfield-care-home-pays-five-15472751
- Hospital pays nearly £500,000 to patient with spinal cord injury who sustained extensive and intractable bedsores: https://www.mix96.co.uk/news/local/2742547/patient-gets-nearly-500k-after-stoke-mandeville-admit-negligence/
- Care home provider ordered to pay £40,000 fine after failing to provide safe care leading to death of patient from bedsore that caused irreversible skin damage: https://www.carehomeprofessional.com/nursing-home-provider-handed-40000-fine-for-failing-to-provide-safe-care/
Medical and prescription claim errors
Elderly people in care homes and hospitals are more susceptible and vulnerable to medication errors, and the impact on them is usually more severe. Although care homes and hospitals should have procedures in place to avoid medication errors, if a mistake is made or the procedure is not followed through then there can be severe and sometimes fatal consequences for the patient.
Medication and prescription errors can vary from the wrong prescription being prescribed, the incorrect dosage being given to a patient, delays in the administering of medication and the wrong medication being delivered to a patient.
According to a 2018 study, 237 million medication errors happen each year, resulting in an estimated 712 deaths due to avoidable adverse drug reactions. Medication errors can also result in serious health concerns including:
- Allergic reaction
- Psychological illness
- Digestive problems such as stomach ulcers and stomach bleeding
- Brain damage
Compensation for a medical or prescription claim error can differ due to the extent of the injuries that your family member has sustained, as well as the consequences those injuries have in the short term and long term. The following are examples of compensation received for medical errors:
- Care home fined £270,000 after resident dies a week after eating chlorine tablets: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-48369991
- Care home fined £75,000 fails to properly manage patients’ medication: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/northern-ireland-care-home-provider-criticised-for-putting-residents-at-risk-38261073.html
Malnutrition and dehydration
Malnutrition and dehydration can occur in care homes and hospitals where there is an inadequate level of staff or resources, malpractice or incompetence and can not only result in exacerbating any healthcare problems the resident currently has, but also slow down their healing time if they are unwell.
Common symptoms of malnutrition and dehydration include:
- Dry mouth
- Weight loss, which can lead to falls and bedsores
- Weakness/lack of energy
- Infections, such as urinary tract infections
In the most severe cases, malnutrition and dehydration can lead to death. There can be a wide range of compensation for malnutrition and dehydration claims, depending on the extent of the malnutrition that the patient has suffered, the duration of time that they have been malnourished and the effect that the malnutrition has had on their quality of life and existing health conditions. Here are some examples of the levels of compensation that have been received in previous claims:
- Care home ordered to pay £82,000 after resident choked on food twice and died: https://www.carehome.co.uk/news/article.cfm/id/1610058/care-homes-being-urged-to-reduce-choking-deaths
- Care home provider pays damages settlement after resident not given fluids required:https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-humber-46910125
Control of infection
Elderly people are more susceptible to picking up infections and are more likely to die from these infections, so it is vital that care homes and hospitals have strict hygiene practices in place to ensure bathrooms and kitchens are cleaned thoroughly, food is prepared correctly and infection is controlled by adequately disposing of waste, blood, contaminated food and medical equipment and care providers practice good hand hygiene and wear protective equipment.
Infectious diseases are responsible for killing more people worldwide than any other single cause. They are caused by organisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites, and while many are harmless others can cause a wide range of diseases.
The most common types of outbreaks in care homes and hospitals are:
- Respiratory infections-such as the influenza virus
- Gastrointestinal infections-often caused by norovirus
- Skin and soft tissue infections
- Urinary tract infections
These infections are typically spread by:
- Physical contact-touching or being touched by someone or something contaminated by an infectious agent
- Droplets-droplets containing the infection are spread by coughing or sneezing
- Airborne infection-directly inhaling the breath of an infected person
- Airborne dissemination-the infection is disseminated in the air and lands on a person or object
- Ingestion-by eating contaminated food or water
The amount of compensation you could receive for an infection claim can differ depending on its severity; the examples below give an idea of the various settlement levels that could be received for infection claims:
- Care home operator ordered to pay £14,000 after food poisoning outbreak: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/west-london-care-home-ordered-to-pay-more-than-14000-in-costs-after-food-poisoning-outbreak-a3090901.html
- Care home ordered to pay £40,000 after failing to control Legionella risk: http://www.vectair.com/care-home-ordered-to-pay-40000-after-failing-to-control-legionella-risk/
- Private care provider fined £3 million after resident contracted Legionnaire’s disease: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-44483283
Claiming for an injury as a care provider/employee
The role of a care provider can be demanding not just physically but emotionally, as you are not only required to be physically active in fulfilling your duties but also be sensitive and compassionate to the needs of residents and patients at all times.
All care homes and hospitals are regulated under UK health and safety standards, which include providing a safe working environment for all employees and making sure staff are fully trained in all aspects of their job role relating to maintaining these standards. If you have suffered an injury as the employee of a care home or hospital because of inadequate standards or a lack of training in how to safely carry out your duties then you may have a claim.
Common accidents among care providers are:
- Slips, trips and falls
- Assaults by colleagues or residents
- Needlestick injuries
- Manual handling injuries
- Accidents when preparing food or drinks
Depending on your injury and its severity, the amount of compensation you receive for an accident that wasn’t your fault could vary. Below are some examples of compensation received by care providers for previous claims:
- Private care home fined £14,000 after worker fell down lift shaft: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-44620046
- Care worker receives substantial compensation after being attacked by resident five times: https://www.communitycare.co.uk/2013/04/22/care-worker-attacked-five-times-receives-compensation-from-council/
- Care worker receives £60,000 settlement after resident throws her across room, leaving her with a fractured spine: https://www.lep.co.uk/news/carer-attacked-by-autistic-resident-secures-payout-for-suffering-1-7605267
How can I protect my loved one if they are injured in a care home or hospital?
If you think your loved one might be showing any signs of injury or poor care due to the treatment they are receiving at a care home or hospital, we would advise taking the following steps:
- Keep a log of any signs you spot such as physical injuries or your family member behaving differently
- Gather as much evidence as you can, including photos of injuries or the environment in which your family member sustained the injury and the names of any workers responsible for their care
- Report any concerns to the management of the care home or hospital before contacting a solicitor
- When you get in contact with us we will talk through the circumstances of the injury with you and whether or not we think you have a claim
- If we think you have a claim and you decide to proceed with us we will investigate the claim, including taking a full history from you and notes of any injuries or psychological trauma. We might also need to refer your family member to a medical expert to determine the severity of the injury and what long term effects it could have
- Keep a note of any financial costs incurred as a result of the injury including medical costs and travel expenses , as well as any loss of income or earnings in the short-term and possible loss of income in the future as a result of the injury
- We will need to work out who the claim will be made against. In terms of physical abuse, a claim can be directly brought against the employer of the individual who committed the abuse without needing to prove fault on the part of the employer. If the claim is in regard to neglect or mistreatment then it may be brought in negligence so fault or blame will need to be proven
- We will work out how much compensation you should be awarded based on the severity of your relative’s pain and the suffering they have experienced, and any medical expenses you have had to pay
- If the opponent accepts blame, compensation will be awarded. If the opponent does not accept blame, as long as we are satisfied that prospects of success are better than 50%, the claim will go to court. We will be with you every step of the way to support you and ensure that your claim goes as expected
There is a three year time limit from the date of the personal injury in which you can claim so don’t delay-call our team today on 0115 9100600
You may be able to claim for the following heads of damages:
- General damages-physical pain, psychological trauma, long term/permanent health issues
- Special damages-out of pocket expenses, such as loss of earnings, and ad hoc losses like cancelling a holiday, missing a child’s wedding, medical costs, travel costs, care costs, and funeral costs, if the injury resulted in the death of your family member.
Our team can give FREE initial personal injury advice on making a claim following an accident in a care home or hospital and we will support you from start to finish. We routinely handle cases on a ‘No Win No Fee’ basis. Our specialists will guide you through the whole process and will also advise on the prospects of you, or your loved one winning the claim from the outset, as well as any other areas you are concerned about. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a care home or hospital environment call us on 0115 9100600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org