Sunday 18 March 2018

Man gets payout after jumping from window

Tim Healy

A mentally ill man who jumped from a second-floor window of a psychiatric hospital has got €150,000 as settlement of his High Court action for injuries he received.

His family criticised the standard of care provided to their brother at the hospital and expressed concerns about the terms of the settlement.

The man (61), who suffers from schizophrenia and cannot be identified for legal reasons, is being cared for at a secure unit in Dublin. He brought a personal injury action against the then Eastern Health Board (now HSE) arising out of an incident at St Brendan's Hospital, Rathdown Road, Dublin, on March 12, 1998, when he jumped from a ward window and fell heavily to the ground.

He sustained fractures to his left hip, heel and wrist. He required surgery, and subsequently contracted MRSA. Since the incident he has required a Zimmer frame and wheelchair.

It was claimed that the hospital was negligent because it placed him in an unsuitable ward, failed to exercise a degree of care required, failed to install toughened glass and failed to take steps that would prevent a person from jumping.

It was also claimed that the severity of the man's illness was not properly assessed.

The claims were denied, and the settlement was made without admission of liability. Mr Justice John Quirke approved the settlement of €150,000.

It was claimed that the man, who had a history of self-harm and mental illness, became even more agitated in the locked ward, which he alleged was not supervised. As a result he made an attempt to get out. Using a chair he climbed through the window before jumping.

The man's brother had told the court that he was unhappy with the terms of settlement given the impact the injuries had on his brother. He told the court the family was concerned if €150,000 would be enough to provide for him in the future.

His brother also expressed his concerns that the settlement meant that there could be no full investigation.

The judge, after listening to the family's concerns, said that he was going to approve the settlement because it was the "best thing".

Irish Independent

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