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Hospital trust fined £180,000 after patient suffers burns from super-heated mattress

December 22 2014

A hospital trust has been fined £180,000 after a sedated patient suffered debilitating injuries after a saline bag caused his mattress to over heat.

Mike Wilcock awoke from a minor operation with third degree burns to his hip and buttock as a result of the incident at Maidstone Hospital on 25th September 2012.

As he had been under anaesthetic, he had been unaware of what was happening and was therefore unable to alert medics.

It is believed the bag was inadvertently placed on a sensor intended to monitor the mattress temperature, providing an inaccurate reading that prompted the equipment to continue heating.

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust was ordered to pay almost £195,000 in fines and costs after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified failings with the way the warming equipment was used.

Maidstone Crown Court was told Trust staff did not have sufficient information and training to ensure the heated mattress was used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Mr Wilcock required skin grafts, was unable to work for almost five months and also suffered a mild heart attack.

The qualified sailing instructor has been forced to curtail the hobby he loves because he is no longer able to sit in a boat, and has been left with permanent scarring.

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust was fined a total of £180,000 and ordered to pay a further £14,970 in costs after admitting breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Dawn Smith said: “Mr Wilcock suffered a serious debilitating injury that was entirely preventable had the Trust implemented a better system and procedures to ensure the warming mattress was used correctly.”

Mike Wilcock said: “What should have been a simple operation has left me disfigured and has disrupted my life and that of my family.

“My case highlights the critical nature of suitable and adequate training for staff in how to use and maintain equipment.”

If you have suffered a personal injury or are unsure of your claim rights and need further information and advice, please contact PM Law solicitors on 0114 296 5444.