NHS Trust criticized after patient dies after drinking cleaning fluid
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust has been criticised by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after a patient apparently died after drinking cleaning fluid that had not been safely stored. Inspectors discovered that Joan Blaber, 85, believed the liquid to be orange juice at Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton last year.
The inspectors visited the hospital a month after Ms Blaber’s death and discovered hazardous substances left on unattended cleaning trolleys. Other noxious substances were found in unlocked cupboards which were easily accessible by patients.
The CQC deputy chief inspector of hospital inspection for the South, Amanda Stanford, said that the trust had been told to ensure secure storage for all projects subject to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (CoSHH) regulations.
“The regulations governing the safe use of these cleaning products are there to protect people from harm. During our inspection we found that these chemicals were not always being kept safely,” she said.
Dr Rob Haigh, medical director of the trust, said: “In the seven months since the inspection, we have taken significant steps to improve the way we manage potentially hazardous substances both in terms of staff training and the way these substances are stored and used, addressing the points published in today’s report.”
Hayley McBride, specialist in CoSHH cases at Roberts Jackson, said this case should act as a reminder to those working in health and social care:
“People might think that accidents involving hazardous substances only happen in chemical or industrial plants but this sad case just goes to show that all organisations need to have proper systems in place to keep dangerous items out of reach. There is plenty of free advice on the Health and Safety Executive’s website, so I would urge employers to waste no time in implementing a CoSHH strategy.”
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