Case studies

Scalding injury to patient left unattended in hospital


We acted for the estate of an elderly gentleman who suffered severe scalding injuries after falling whilst left unattended in the bathroom at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, in January 2011.

His injuries were so severe that he was transferred to the Burns Unit at Salisbury District Hospital. He was later transferred back to the Royal Hampshire Hospital, but sadly never recovered from his injuries and he passed away in May 2011.

Our team carried out investigations, including liaising with The Health and Safety Executive, which had looked into this accident. We established that the patient had been admitted to hospital with a history of falling, confusion and low blood pressure. He was assessed and purposely placed in a bed near the nursing station so that a close eye could be kept on him. Notwithstanding the hospital’s awareness of the risks, he was left to use the bathroom unaided and nobody noticed when he did not return to his bed. It was nearly an hour later, when water was seen seeping from beneath the bathroom door that the alarm was raised. By then, the patient had been severely scalded by very hot water. He had fallen backwards and was lying in the water, unable to get up. He suffered extensive burns to his face, torso, arm and hand. The damage to his hand was so bad that amputation was considered.

The HSE went into the hospital and tested the water temperature. It should have been a maximum of 44 degrees but was recorded at 60 degrees, which was why the scalding was so severe. Scalding injuries such as this feature on the NHS’s own list of ‘Never Events’ – those incidents that should never be able to happen if an acceptable standard of care is being provided. Our medical negligence solicitors served a Letter of Claim alleging that the nursing care fell below an acceptable standard, which the hospital admitted. The claim settled for £17,500, plus costs.


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Penningtons Manches LLP

Penningtons Manches LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. San Francisco is an associated office.

Penningtons Manches LLP