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Home Canterbury News Article
A health trust is being sued by the family of a man who died after falling out of bed on a heavily-understaffed hospital ward.
Grandfather-of-four Malcolm Rogers, 76, toppled to the floor twice in four days while receiving treatment at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital – the second fall sparking the pneumonia that caused his death.
An inquest heard only three nurses were working on the ward at the time, when there should have been seven.
Now his family are taking legal action against the hospital and have employed top medical negligence lawyer Sarah Harman to fight their case.
Mr Rogers' daughter, Pauline Hickson, said: "It has been a complete nightmare.
"This has been ongoing and has caused a lot of stress for our family.
"My father worked very hard all of his life and he didn't deserve that treatment because of a lack of staffing."
The inquest heard diabetic Mr Rogers had been admitted to Harbledown ward because of low blood sugar levels.
Shortly after his admission, he collapsed in a bathroom and hit his head on the ground - but no X-ray was taken or full assessment carried out.
He later fell from his bed, shattering his hip and sparking a decline in his health.
A pathologist ruled the break had caused the pneumonia that killed him on July 23 last year after his transfer to Ashford's William Harvey Hospital.
At Canterbury Coroners' Court, staff nurse Janet Nelson admitted Mr Rogers' first fall should have triggered an immediate full-screen assessment, but said it was unclear whose responsibility it was to arrange it.
She said: "There were two nurses off sick and there were vacancies that needed to be filled, so we were understaffed.
"I don't think it was clear who should have arranged a full-screen assessment, whether it should have been the nurse in charge of the ward or the nurse in charge of the patient, and this led to the delay in the assessment."
"We do not want what has happened to our dad to be swept under the carpet. The public has the right to know what is going on in our hospitals..." - Malcolm Rogers' daughter Anna Harlow
The court was told no nurse had witnessed Mr Rogers' second fall and staff were only alerted by another patient sounding an emergency alarm.
After his death, an independent review of Mr Rogers' care was carried out by the East Kent Health Trust and £2.9million was pumped into extra staffing.
But Mr Rogers' family - including his other daughter, Anne Harlow, and partner Josephine Sammut - still say they want justice.
Mrs Hickson said: "After reading the trust's internal investigation review, we were shocked at the number of mistakes the hospital had made while they were responsible for my father's care.
"The hospital had been given our contact details a number of times, but they failed to inform us or anybody else about the falls, his transfer to William Harvey Hospital or his hip operation.
"We only found out when Josephine travelled to Canterbury hospital to visit him and was shocked to find someone else in his bed – we think this is absolutely appalling.
"At the inquest, the trust said that they had addressed the problems that occurred but in fact the procedures were already set in place but not adhered to when our father was in their care."
Mrs Harlow said: "We do not want what has happened to our dad to be swept under the carpet.
"The public has the right to know what is going on in our hospitals."
Coroner Rebecca Cobb passed a verdict of accidental death, ruling Mr Rogers' pneumonia was caused by a fractured hip.
Julie Pearce, the health trust's chief nurse and director of quality and operations, said: "Following the inquest into Mr Rogers' death we would like to express our sympathy to his family and partner.
"Although the coroner found that Mr Rogers' death was accidental, East Kent Hospitals had already completed a full review of his care.
"From this we have started a regular audit to ensure that patient safety check lists are completed by consultants and allocated an extra £2.9 million towards increased staffing."
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