Hospitals can be dangerous places and clinical mishaps are not the only hazard that patients can face. In one case, lawyers representing a woman who fell out of her hospital bed following surgery succeeded in winning her multi-million-pound compensation from the NHS.
The woman had undergone brain surgery at the hospital after sustaining a serious head injury in a road accident. Whilst recovering, she fell from her bed, suffering further cerebral damage. It was claimed that the bed was inadequately guarded and, following negotiations with the woman's lawyers, the NHS trust that ran the hospital conceded that the fall was unambiguously its fault.
For a long time after the accident, the woman was incapable of communicating and was unable to walk. Although she has made a significant recovery, she still suffers from intense fatigue and has difficulty getting around. Although the extent to which the fall had worsened her prognosis was disputed, it was agreed that she will never be able to work or live independently.
The trust apologised to the woman in open court and agreed to pay her a £3 million lump sum, plus index-linked and tax-free annual payments to cover the costs of her care for life. Those payments will start at £57,000 a year, but will eventually rise to £145,000 a year as her need for professional care increases. The High Court approved the settlement.