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July 23, 2008

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Mixer-tap mix-up costs hospital trust GBP 8000 for scalding incident

An elderly patient at an Oxford hospital was scalded while taking a bath because there was no mixer valve on the taps to ensure the water did not get too hot.

The Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust appeared before the city’s magistrates on 21 July to plead guilty to a charge under s3(1) of the HSWA 1974 for failing to ensure the safety of its patient. It was fined £8000 and ordered to pay the HSE’s prosecution costs of £2286.15.

The court heard that on 10 October last year, an elderly lady, who was due to leave the John Radcliffe Hospital that day, was taking a bath in which the temperature of the water from the hot tap was approximately 55 degrees Celsius. She suffered burns to her body, which required her to remain in the hospital for a further six weeks.

The bath involved was found to be one of four in the hospital that was not fitted with a thermostatic mixing valve (TMV). Prior to the incident there had been no formal protocol for assessing individual patients’ capabilities for bathing, and no formal safety inspections of water temperature.

HSE inspector Matthew Lee told SHP: “The TMV absolutely should have been there, and the Trust accepted that. It took immediate action following the incident to ensure that all baths in the hospital were fitted with TMVs and have implemented a comprehensive range of improvements to ensure that there can be no repetition of this type of incident.”

The woman’s family was also keen to point out that, apart from this incident, the standard of care provided for her had been exemplary. The John Radcliffe Hospital is one of the largest in the UK.

Concluded inspector Lee: “I would advise those who care for vulnerable people to ensure they have adequate controls in place to prevent a similar accident occurring.”


What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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