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NHS Lothian fined following patient attack on staff member

Posted in: Criminal Injury and Assault Employer Negligence Workplace Injuries 

NHS Lothian pleaded guilty last week to two charges of employer negligence after one of their nurses was violently attacked by a schizophrenic patient in March 2009. The nurse had thirty years of experience with difficult patients and managed to break free, but sustained injuries to her head after the patient ripped out her hair and “violently” shook her head.

Magdalene Anderson was attacked from behind in the patient’s home in East Lothian. The patient, who has suffered thirty years of psychiatric illness, had previously attacked another NHS nurse with a knife. Due to this previous offence, the court ruled that the health board for the East Lothian Community mental health team — for which Ms. Anderson works — had not carried out a proper risk assessment. It also ruled that a risk assessment for the patient had not been carried out effectively.

2 out of 12 team members were fully trained

Furthermore, the court found that NHS Lothian had taken eight months to present the case to the HSE, as opposed to the stipulated ten days. Out of the twelve team-members, only two were found to have fully up-to-date training for dealing with violent patients; with the court also discovering that no safety system was in place for handling emergency situations like the attack on Ms. Anderson.

Sheriff Peter Braid fined NHS Lothian a total of £32,000 with a 28-day window in which to make the payment. In sentencing, he said:

“Lothian Health Board has pleaded guilty to two contraventions of the Health and Safety at Work 1974 … Charge one is a breach of the general duty towards employees, and charge two is a failure to report or notify the incident timeously.”

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