NHS trust fined over elderly patient fallWoman dropped 5 metres from hospital window

17 January 2008

Hospital care

Being prepared can make your hospital stay easier

An English NHS trust has been fined £20,000 after an elderly patient fell out of an open window at a Swindon hospital.

Iris Carey, aged 77, suffered a broken ankle and a compressed fracture of a vertebra after falling more than 5 metres from the window at Swindon's Victoria Hospital.

The Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust yesterday pleaded guilty at Swindon Magistrates' Courts following a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

It was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £12,502.

The HSE  has told hospitals and organisations which provide care services for vulnerable people that they need to manage the risk of falls from windows.

Safety measures

Speaking after the court hearing, HSE inspector Alison Fry said: ‘The incident involving Iris Carey was entirely avoidable.

‘The trust had already identified a risk with the windows on this unit, as window restrictors provided to prevent falls did not meet the required standard.

‘There are sensible and simple steps which should be have been taken to prevent this accident from occurring.

‘Where appropriate, suitable safeguards should be provided to restrict window openings to no more that 100mm.

‘There should also be suitable maintenance arrangements to ensure control measures are in place and functioning properly.’