John had a history of serious mental illness. On the evening of 10 March 2001 John's family called an ambulance. He was taken to the accident and emergency department at the local hospital.
His notes stated that he was suffering from psychosis with an underlying depression. John was admitted informally to South Ward 3 which was on the 3rd floor. The main entrance to the ward was kept locked by staff. The fire door was in need of repair.
John became increasingly agitated and paranoid during the following day. He was running wildly all over the ward. At about 18.20hrs, he escaped through the fire door on the ward and ran out of the ward. He fell through a window on the third floor, sustaining serious injuries.
We alleged that the nursing staff:
- failed to respond to John's agitated behaviour throughout the day on 11 March 2001
- failed to administer sedative medication
- failed to ensure that John remained in a side room where he would not have access to either of the exits from the ward.
In addition the on-call psychiatrist, upon being informed of the John's behaviour at or about 17.20, failed to examine John adequately.
As a result of his fall, John suffered serious injuries. He was in a coma for an extended period of time. He suffered diffuse brain damage and a fractured hip and shoulder, the latter preventing him from ever returning to his pre-accident work as a plasterer.
After protracted negotiations Samantha Critchley settled the case for £350,000, shortly before trial.
Following John's injury and due to a number of previous similar cases within the same trust, a full internal and external independent inquiry was carried out. One positive outcome is that the psychiatric ward has now been moved to the ground floor.
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