BM (Executrix of the Estate of AM, Deceased) v Somerset Care Ltd (2014)

The claimant, a 79-year-old woman, received £35,000 after her husband died having suffered a fall in July 2011 whilst in the defendant's residential care home.  

The deceased had suffered a stroke in March 2008 which left him paralysed down the right hand side of his body. He required on-going care and in June 2011, the deceased attended a residential care home operated by the defendant for respite care. Whilst being washed and d`ressed by carers at the home on 16 July 2011, the deceased suffered a fall and was taken by ambulance to hospital. He underwent an x-ray which confirmed a fracture to the neck of his femur.

The deceased underwent a partial hip replacement on 18 July 2011. Shortly after his operation the deceased began to deteriorate. First he contracted a UTI and high temperature. The deceased was then diagnosed with the ESBL infection on 5 August 2011. An ESBL infection (extended spectrum beta lactamase) produces species of bacteria which destroy one or more antibiotics. The deceased was given antibiotics to treat the ESBL infection which failed to work. The Liverpool Care Pathway, palliative care for dying patients, was put in place on 16 August 2011. The deceased died on 27 August 2011. The deceased’s death certificate listed numerous causes of death, chief amongst which were infection and the fractured neck of the femur.

The claimant brought an action against the Care Home alleging that it was negligent. The deceased had been incorrectly recorded as a ‘medium risk’ of a fall. The deceased had previously suffered fits and the Care Home had subsequently failed to implement a specific fall intervention plan.

Liability was admitted.

It was conceded that the fracture to the neck of the deceased’s femur, as a result of the fall, had triggered a chain of events that caused him to contract the ESBL infection, which ultimately caused his death.

Settlement out of court: £35,000 total damages:-

Pain, suffering and loss of amenity: £10,000.

Special damages

Bereavement damages: £11,800

Loss of pension: £8,200

Funeral expenses: £5,000