Clinical Negligence

Patient dies after absconding from psychiatric ward

This case study demonstrates the expertise of our Clinical Negligence team who negotiated a settlement of £85,000 for the wife and daughter of a man who died after being allowed to wander out of a psychiatric ward.

The patient died on a London street, most likely from a seizure. He had been allowed to leave a psychiatric ward to which he had been admitted in November 2007 in an acute confusional state. He was found two days later dead in a doorway some distance from the hospital.

The team were  instructed to represent the family at the two day inquest. The pathologist advised that the cause of death was sudden death in epilepsy. The coroner advised that he could not accept this conclusion given the various explanations heard during the inquest. One theory was that he had died of hypothermia, being allowed to leave in just a t-shirt in November. The coroner concluded that he could not determine the primary cause of death following the deceased absconding from hospital. He recorded the cause of death as unascertained.

What was apparent from the evidence given by the medical staff looking after the deceased was that he was in a very confused and agitated state. For example, he was unable to find his way back to his bed after going to the toilet. The nurse who was looking after him also had eight other patients to look after. He left the ward unnoticed when he should have been kept under investigation.

Following the inquest, we represented the deceased’s wife and young daughter in a clinical negligence claim against University College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Settlement was achieved at £85,000.

Read more about our experience in inquests and fatal accidents.

We have one of the largest and most experienced specialist medical negligence teams in Southern England including London. Our team of highly experienced lawyers has the depth and range of expertise essential in this sensitive and often complex area of law. Our clinical negligence team is very proud to be ranked Number 1 in both the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners UK.

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