The family of a 90-year-old woman who died as a result of scald injuries after her hot water bottle burst in her bed in a nursing home has been awarded over €54,000 in compensation for their pain, suffering, losses, funeral and travelling expenses.
The woman had been a resident at a nursing home in Dublin at the time of the injury in January 2017. Counsel for the woman’s daughter, who was suing the owners of the nursing home along with her two brothers and their children, detailed to the court the series of events which led to the woman’s injuries. Counsel told the court that the woman, then aged 89, had been in her bed in the nursing home around 6pm on the evening in question when a nurse took two hot water bottles away from the bed and returned to place a fresh bottle near the woman’s feet. The bottle burst shortly afterwards, severely scalding the woman on her buttocks, thighs, calves, ankles and heels.
The plaintiff’s affidavit stated that her mother had been rushed to hospital by ambulance, where she was assessed before being transferred to a specialist burns unit of another hospital. Her burns were treated with antiseptic dressings, antibiotics and analgesia but she subsequently developed pneumonia and a urinary tract infection which required antibiotics to treat. She remained in hospital for three months, by which time her wounds had almost completely healed.
However, the woman passed away in August 2017. Her daughter told the court that she had been advised by a plastic surgeon that she had suffered a life-threatening injury with a 31 per cent mortality rate and added that she had remained bedridden from the date of the injury until her death.
Counsel for the family said that a full trial would be unlikely to criticise the individual nurse, adding that a cloth cover over the hot water bottle had concealed any defect from sight. He told the court that following an investigation of the incident, all hot waters bottles had been removed from use in the nursing home and the investigator advised that they be replaced with coded stock which is inspected every month and replaced annually.
The Injuries Board assessment of €54,406 was being recommended by Counsel for the family and it was requested that the court approve the settlement. Judge Groarke in the Circuit Court approved the settlement.
In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.