Oxford NHS trust fined for patient safety incident

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is advising hospitals and other establishments, such as care homes where there are vulnerable persons, to ensure all baths and showers are fitted with Thermostatic Mixing Valves (TMVs) following the prosecution of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust on Monday 21 July 2008. The Trust, which runs the John Radcliffe Hospital in Headley Way, Oxford, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,286.15, and £500 in compensation, as well as a £15 victim surcharge, at Oxford Magistrates’ Court following an injury to a patient in their care.

The Trust pleaded guilty to charges under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to ensure the safety of one of its patients.

On 10 October 2007 an elderly patient was scalded when taking a bath. The temperature of the water from the hot tap was approximately 55 degrees Celsius and she suffered burns to her body. The patient was discharged six weeks after the incident, though she had been due to leave on the day the incident occurred. The bath involved was one of four in the hospital, not fitted with TMVs.

Prior to the incident there was no formal protocol for assessing individual patients’ capabilities for bathing and no formal safety inspections of water temperatures.

Matthew Lee, HSE Inspector, said:

“The Trust took immediate action following the incident to ensure that all baths in the hospital were fitted with TMVs and have implemented a comprehensive range of improvements to ensure that there can be no repetition of this type of incident.

“I would advise those who care for vulnerable people to ensure they have adequate controls in place to prevent a similar accident occurring.”

The HSE notice regarding this prosecution can be downloaded here.

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