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MISSING WINDOW RESTRICTOR ENDED IN FATAL FALL

NHS Trust fined after failing to follow window safety alert 

Medway NHS Foundation Trust has today been ordered the more than £61,000 in fines and costs after a patient died following a 5m fall from a first floor window at Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham.

Danny Jewitt, aged 45, sustained serious chest injuries in the incident on 10 May 2009 and was pronounced dead later the same day. Mr Jewitt had been admitted to the hospital suffering with alcohol dependency and was prone to confusion.

HSE investigators established that the window was left wide-open. It was one of a number of windows on the ward that were unrestricted despite Guidance issued in 1989 stating that windows in hospitals where there are vulnerable patients should be restricted to a maximum opening of 10cm to prevent falls.

In October 2007 the Department of Health issued an alert requiring NHS establishments to take action to fit window restrictors by February 2008. The Trust received the alert and had identified a large number of missing or broken restrictors. However, no action was taken.

Fitting window restrictors is simple and inexpensive

The Trust, of Windmill Road, Gillingham, was fined £42,000 and ordered to pay £19,073 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after sentencing, HSE inspector Liz Smith said:

“The tragic death of Mr Jewitt was entirely preventable. The Trust knew the window in his room required urgent attention, and had a suitable restrictor been fitted in a timely manner then he would never have fallen in the way he did.

Fitting window restrictors is a simple, inexpensive job that is proven to save lives. It is vital that all hospitals and care homes protect vulnerable people by ensuring windows open no more than 10cm.

They also need to regularly monitor and maintain existing restrictors to ensure they are working and are in good condition.”

At least 30 people in healthcare settings have died following a falls from unrestricted windows in the last ten years. HSE has issued guidance on prevention

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