Saturday 24 March 2018

Taxi driver (58) who injured himself while taking a bath in Beaumont Hospital loses €38k negligence claim

Beaumont hospital
Beaumont hospital

Ray Managh

A 58-year-old taxi driver who fell and injured himself while having a bath in Beaumont Hospital has lost a €38,000 damages claim for negligence against the hospital.

Derek Martin, of Old Town Avenue, Santry, Dublin, told the Circuit Civil Court he had an abscess on his thigh drained in a procedure in January 2011 and, in accordance with hospital practice, had been advised to soak his leg wound in a saline bath to ease a change of dressing.

He had not been accompanied by a nurse or care worker and had injured his chest when he fell while getting out of the bath, claiming the hospital had been negligent in permitting him take a bath without assistance at a time when his mobility was impaired because of his surgical wound.

Barrister Conor Bourke, who appeared with Arthur Cox Solicitors for the hospital board, told Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, that the hospital denied it had been responsible by breach of duty or negligence for Mr Martin’s injuries.

Martin told Mr Bourke in cross-examination that he had similar drainage procedures carried out at the hospital on up to 30 occasions in the past and so far as he could remember had always been helped, while soaking dressings, by either a nurse or care assistant.

He said he had been due for discharge from the hospital on the day of his fall and had told the nurse station in the private ward that he was going to soak his dressing. He had sat in the bath for up to 15 minutes.

He said he had slipped as he was getting out and had fallen back in, banging the side of his chest. He said he had reported his fall when he returned to the ward but could not explain why no reference to it had appeared in nursing notes.

Martin told the court that after he had been discharged the pain had become so severe he had to return to Beaumont about 10 days later because he had been “in absolute agony.” Xrays revealed there had been no fracture and he had been given painkillers.  The pain had lasted for more than four weeks but he had not attended his GP about it.

He agreed with Mr Bourke that only seven hours after the procedure he had walked unaided along a number of corridors and out onto a concourse for a smoke. He had been kept overnight and was being discharged the next day when the accident occurred.

Martin said there were five staff on duty but “the ward was manic” at the time and he had not wanted to ask anyone to accompany him to the bath.   

Dismissing Martin’s claim Judge Groarke said the nursing evidence given to the court on his behalf was a counsel of perfection and he could not accept there had been any breach of duty arising out of the care provided to him.  The court did not think he would have been accompanied on bath soaks on all occasions he had previously been treated for the same complaint in hospital.

He made no order for costs.

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