A hospital has been fined over its inappropriate management of the use of bedrails at its hospitals.
The North West NHS Foundation Trust pleaded guilty at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court.
Number of visits revealed failings
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the court that University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust failed to ensure they managed the risk of bedrails, which is a fundamental element of patient safety for which extensive and comprehensive guidance on risk, management and policies existed.
An initial HSE visit to the Trust in February 2012 identified issues with bedrail management. A follow-up visit in May 2012 resulted in the service of an Improvement Notice (IN) on bedrail management and a letter with recommendations.
The Trust identified actions to improve bedrail management, but failed to implement them. When the Trust was inspected again in July 2013, inappropriate bedrails were found to still be in use and management systems were not appropriate to manage the risk.
A further IN on identification and maintenance of third party bedrails was served.
The Court was told that the Trust had a policy on bedrail management but did not have the systems or procedures to underpin the implementation of the policy.
Bedrails help protect vulnerable people
Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust admitted breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £18,465.
HSE Inspector Carol Forster says the need for adequate risk assessment and management of third party bedrails has been recognised in the healthcare sector for a number of years. Guidance and advice has been published by the relevant bodies to this effect.
Bedrails are used to protect vulnerable people from falling out of bed, but the risks from inappropriate use include entrapment by the head or neck, potentially leading to injury or asphyxiation.
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: May 18, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown