An Australian family has indicated they will be making a claim for a hospital death due to a lack of care following a hearing into the fatal accident in which a 26 year-old drowned while taking a bath.
The report followed the death of Amy Hauserman in March 2008, who had voluntarily been admitted to the Frankston Hospital in Melbourne after doctors feared she was showing signs of schizophrenia which had resulted in Amy previously suffering with anorexia.
Two days after her admission, Amy died from “a hypoxic brain injury in a setting of immersion” which Coroner Peter White attributed to either Amy lapsing into an unconscious state during the bath or slipping and falling as she tried to get out of it.
The Coroner noted that no risk assessment had been conducted as to whether it was safe for her to take a bath unsupervised and that Amy´s consultant had not been consulted beforehand. He also said at the inquest hearing that the absence of supervision was a primary feature of Amy´s death as it would have been avoided had a nurse been present in the bathroom.
One of the nurses involved in Amy´s care gave evidence at the inquest that she was unaware there was a protocol for patients taking baths, but her testimony was contradicted by the Hospital´s Head of Nursing who said that all psychiatric ward patients should only be allowed to take a bath unsupervised after a risk assessment had been conducted.
After the Coroner´s verdict had been delivered, Amy´s father made a statement in which he confirmed that the family would be making a claim for a hospital death due to a lack of care on the grounds that had staff at the Frankston Hospital “showed her the due and proper care she deserved, she would still be us now”.
The Mornington Peninsula Health Service – against who the compensation claim for a hospital death due to a lack of care has been made – failed to comment on Mr Hauserman´s allegations; however a court date in May 2014 has now been set for the claim to be heard.
Professor John Crown, a consultant oncologist, writing recently in The Irish Independent, said that the HSE and Department of Health and Children together “comprise one of the least ethical organisations that I have ever dealt with”. Professor Crown goes on to describe the HSE as “secretive, self-serving, dishonest, incompetent and unintelligent.” He concludes, with an interesting historical comparison, that the “corruption and incompetence” of the HSE is effectively a form of Stalinism.
These comments are interesting from the point of view of anyone trying to make a medical negligence claim or hospital negligence claim related to one of the HSE’s services. The management problems that increase the likelihood of negligence are compounded by the way the HSE deals with its own negligence. It’s really no surprise that the Injuries Board Ireland refuses to deal with cases against the HSE.
A report today for the Irish Patients Association by the State Claims Agency shows that there are an average of 15,000 slips, trips, and falls in Irish hospitals, using data from the past 6 years. The State Claims Agency data reveals that about 40% of hospital incidents are falls.
About 300 patients fall in Irish hospital showers each year, some of whom suffer fractured bones, although only about 1 percent of patients sustained multiple injuries. Approximately one-quarter of patients who fell in showers suffered either bruising, lacerations or fractures.
Most accidents occur when patients are not under supervision and in at least one Irish hospital poor drainage leaves the shower facilities permanently flooded and therefore slippery. This certainly exposes Irish hospitals to medical negligence claims.