A claim for an injury to a nurse at work has been upheld in the High Court after it was ruled an injury sustained while working at Epsom Hospital´s Outpatients Department was not due to the contributory negligence of the nurse.
Having arrived arrived early at the Outpatients Department for work one Monday morning in March 2008 Sister Germaine began to prepare the department for the day´s clinics. The nurse discovered that over the weekend contractors had altered the rows of metallic seating in the waiting room to lay new flooring and failed to replace them properly.
Sister Germaine asked for the help of porters to move the rows of seating as they were in the way of the doors to the consultation rooms, but was advised told that they (the porters) were too busy on different work. She also asked that staff member from the maintenance department be sent to help her with the task at hand but was told that it was not their job, and reported the issue to the project manager responsible for overseeing the contractor’s work on re-laying the floor.
As patients were starting to arrive at the clinic– some of whom were quite elderly and needed a seat while waiting – Sister Germaine took the task upon herself to replace the metallic rows of seating but, as she moved the last one into its correct position, she injured her back. An accident report was filed through her line manager in the hospital and incident forms were sent across in April and May.
After seeking legal guidance about her accident, Sister Germaine made a injury to nurse at work claim against the Epsom and St Heller University Hospitals NHS Trust for accident injury compensation in respect of the pain and suffering she had experienced and also for the loss of income she had been inflicted with due to having to leave her job due to her back injury.
Despite admitting liability for Sister Germaine’s injury, the NHS Trust alleged that, by shifting the metallic seating rather than wait for a porter to become available, she was to blame for her accident and injury by failing to apply her manual handling training, failing to apply her working knowledge and experience as a senior nurse and by failing to opt for an alternative course of action.
At the High Court in London, Judge Simon Brown QC found in favour of Sister Germaine´s injury to nurse at work claim and stated that there was no reasonable argument of contributory negligence to answer. The judge stated that Sister Germaine had filed accident reports following her injury which clearly pointed out an issue without apportioning blame.
He remarked that the contractors, project manager and hospital porters had been negligent with regard to do their jobs and the manual handling training Sister Germaine had been given was for moving of patients and not of hospital furniture. In the circumstances, it had not been appropriate to expect Sister Germaine to avoid moving the seating as she had asked for help but had been refused it.
Sister Germaine´s cinjury to nurse at work claim will now go forward to be assessed for damages.