Hudgell Solicitors are supporting the daughter of an elderly woman alleged to have suffered these facial injuries when falling from her hospital bed.
Jean Malcherczyk had been admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Greenwich, in the early hours after falling at her home, which she shared with her daughter Karen.
She was fortunate to suffer only a fractured sternum and a minor injury to the back of her head, described as a ‘bruise’ by the hospital, and was given painkillers at the Accident and Emergency Unit, where she was admitted.
Karen spent a few hours with her mother in hospital and said although the painkillers were making her a bit drowsy and confused, she was otherwise fine, was talking, and had no other noticeable injuries.
However, when she returned that evening, at about 7pm, Karen says she was horrified to find her mother laid on a mattress in the A&E department floor, with a swollen face, lump on her forehead, cut on her nose, and swelling and bruising to both her eyes.
She was only then informed that her mother had fallen from her hospital trolley during the course of the day and landed face-first on the hard floor.
Hospital waited six days before carrying out a CT scan
Despite this, it was a further six days until the hospital carried out a CT scan which showed brain damage.
Karen, from Eltham, south London, is now pursuing a legal claim on her mother’s behalf against Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust through our medical negligence team at Hudgell Solicitors.
It has been alleged as part of the case that the hospital failed to provide basic nursing care, failed to provide a safe environment by not putting her in a bed with sides, and was negligent in waiting six days to carry out a CT scan after she fell from her bed.
The Trust has admitted breach of its duty of care, but has not accepted causing Mrs Malcherczyk’s brain injury.
Although Mrs Malcherczyk, who was 85 at the time, had a CT scan earlier after her admission to hospital, which found ‘nothing abnormal detected’, Karen says she asked for another to assess her mother’s new injuries, but was told her condition would simply be monitored.
When a new CT scan was eventually carried out on her head – by which time she had deteriorated – it showed brain injuries which had not been present on the first scan.
“It was just awful, I knew I had lost my mum then. Something inside told me that things were not going to be the same again,” said Karen.
The hospital did not carry out any treatment for the brain injury, which was now a week old, and Mrs Malcherczyk remained in hospital for around six weeks.
During this time it is alleged as part of the claim that they also neglected an existing leg ulcer which had become so severe that she was seen by vascular specialists at a neighbouring hospital and it was deemed ‘critical’.
She was discharged back home on February 17.
Expert neurologist says delay in scan was missed opportunity to reverse brain damage
An independent expert neurologist, consulted as part of the ongoing legal case, highlighted the six-day delay in carrying out the CT scan as an opportunity missed to carry out surgery, which she said could have potentially reversed the brain damage.
She also said Mrs Malcherczyk’s life expectancy has been “significantly compromised” by several years, due to the brain damage suffered.
Solicitor Jodi Newton, a specialist in medical negligence compensation claims, added that the failure to give Mrs Malcherczyk a bed with sides, particularly given she had a history of falls, was below the standard of care expected.
She said: “The simple facts are that had the hospital placed Mrs Malcherczyk in a bed with sides, or undertaken alternative measures, she would not have fallen from her bed and suffered injuries.
“Even when she was in the clinical decisions unit after her fall she was placed on another bed without sides, with another trolley pushed up against her bed, which was completely unsuitable.
“We feel the delay in carrying out a CT scan after falling from her bed was inexcusable. She had suffered a clear head injury, had a decreased level of consciousness and was confused. It should have been the first action taken.
“Without doubt, the time Mrs Malcherczyk was in hospital coincided with a massive decline in her health and mental capacity. We will be seeking a settlement which reflects this.”
“She’s now a stranger, my mother has effectively gone”
Karen says life was ‘completely different’ when her mother returned home.
“Before the hospital fall, she had always been a very active woman, visiting friends, and she was on the committee of the Townswomen’s Guild. She always kept busy, if she’d watched something on TV, she’d then have to get up and do something, she couldn’t just sit and do nothing,” she said.
“But afterwards, everything changed. She started calling out ‘Karen’ day and night, in this loud voice. You couldn’t talk to her. She didn’t even know she was doing it, and she’d wander around.
“She had no idea if it was day or night, and I had to sleep in the next room to her downstairs, which meant I hardly had any sleep. She was also suffering seizures and was doubly incontinent which was awful. I knew she was never going to get better.”
Karen cared for her mother at home for a year, before she was accepted for funding at a local nursing home.
She was eventually deemed as “lacking mental capacity” and a Do Not Resuscitate order was issued in December 2015, shortly before she was moved to a nursing home on December 23, 2015 – almost a year after her fall.
“It was partly a relief when she went into the home and I don’t miss the mother I had in the end, because that was a stranger, that wasn’t my mother,” Karen added.
When Karen’s sister Catharine was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, Karen moved in with her mother, who was widowed when her husband Janek passed away, to be closer to both. She then stayed with her mum after Catharine died in 2012.
She said: “I had cared for my sister while she was ill and had treatment, and then after she died I moved into mum’s house as she wasn’t doing very well.
“She was functioning perfectly well before the fall in hospital, everything was fine. But what happened to her was appalling, shameful. This could so easily have been avoided and I could have had my mother back home.
“I feel like I have lost everyone now, as my mother has effectively gone.”