A hospital has been fined £10,000 after a woman was seriously injured when she jumped from a ward window.
Jane Bacon, from Clare, who was agitated and confused, climbed out of a first-floor window at West Suffolk Hospital after feeling “in danger and needing to escape”.
The 50-year-old sustained a broken shoulder, broken rib, fractured vertebrae, collapsed lung and bruising after falling three metres to the ground. She spent 13 days in Addenbrooke’s Hospital following the incident.
At Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Prosecutor Nicola Jaynes said Mrs Bacon was admitted to a general ward at the hospital on September 22.
Mrs Jaynes said on September 30, Mrs Bacon had become agitated due to a flashing fire alarm light in her room and thought she was being filmed.
“She spent most of the night in her chair and the last time she was seen was 6am,” she said. “She thought she was in danger and needed to escape.
“She used a chair to climb up and open a window and fell into bushes below.”
The window, on the first floor, was one-and-a-half metres from the floor.
Mrs Jaynes said although the trust had made efforts to make sure restrictors were placed on windows, they had not accounted for someone wanting to jump out.
In mitigation, Iain Daniels said after the incident the trust had taken steps to ensure all windows were fitted with tamper-proof restrictors and that prior to Mrs Bacon’s fall, the trust had an exemplary health and safety record.
He said: “The trust simply didn’t appreciate the risk of patients going out of windows deliberately.”
The trust was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,420 in costs.
Mrs Bacon’s father, Gordon Sadler, said after the hearing: “It is very unfortunate – it shouldn’t have happened.
“She is still in pain and has to have further operations.
“It is a good hospital, it was just an unfortunate accident.”
A spokesman for West Suffolk Hospital said: “Following this incident, we undertook immediate action to fit window restrictors to every hospital window.
“We sincerely apologise to the patient concerned. “Ensuring that people using the hospital site are safe is our highest priority.”