Are hospitals the least safe spots in the UK?

Weekly news recap: 7 days ending 26 Nov 2012

Whether you’re a patient or an employee, hospitals seem to be one of the least safe places to be in the country according to this week’s latest news stories.

First comes the story of how a seventy two year old pensioner won his legal battle for personal injury compensation for the loss of nearly all his vision in one of his eyes in the wake of a raft of hospital errors. The injured man, Malcolm Spencer, had been suffering from distorted vision prior to the incident, and while he was referred to the Fairfield General Hospital, located in Bury, medical staff there neglected to discern that Mr Spencer had been suffering from age-related macular degeneration,  which was responsible for the distortion.

Hospital staff sent Mr Spencer for laser eye treatment, which invariably made his vision even worse than it was. This prompted the injured man to make a medical negligence claim against the NHS Trust responsible for managing the Fairfield, and with the hospital admitting they had made mistakes that cost Mr Spencer nearly all his remaining vision in that one eye, agreement has recently been reached to compensate the man for his damages.

Meanwhile, a nursing auxiliary at the Belford Hospital was also awarded compensation after a personal injury at work to the tune of £50,000, thanks to a wrenched back and shoulder. Linda Mitchell, fifty nine years old, had been working at the Belford’s Belhaven Ward when she was attempting to arrange heavy lined curtains around the bed of a patient, leaning over a TV table.

However, the auxiliary ended up wrenching her shoulder and back after the curtains became jammed. Ms Mitchell was injured so severely that she has not been able to resume her duties since 2008, which is when the incident originally occurred.

Ms Mitchell finally received compensation payment recently after a long, protracted battle with the NHS, which first saw the claimant only being offered £25,000 for her injuries. However, the auxiliary stuck to her guns, resulting in her earning double the initial amount after a civil action; while Ms Mitchell expressed happiness that a settlement had been reached, she was quick to add that the the entire incident could have been completely avoided if hospital bosses had heeded initial complaints about the jammed curtain.

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