Doubell v Kings College Hospital NHS Trust [2020] EWHC 359 (QB) (21 February 2020)

This is an appeal from a decision of … county court on 5-6 August 2019… dismissing C’s claim for personal injury arising out of an accident which occurred on 15 June 2013 at D Hospital. [1]

C was aged 65 at the date of the accident. She had been admitted to hospital on 5 June 2013 and she fell out of bed in the small hours of 15 June 2013 and landed on her knees… the only issue at trial was … liability. [2]

C’s case at trial was on admission to hospital, she had been assessed by nurse as requiring bed rails. D had negligently failed to act on this assessment. Had D done so, bed rails would have been put in place on 6 June 2013 and would have remained there so that they would have prevented C’s fall on 15 June 2013. [3]

J rejected this claim and there are four aspects of her decision which are challenged by C:

i) J considered that the focus of her judgment should be directed at the position on 15 June 2013 and whether there was a breach of duty on that day (“Ground 1”);

ii) She found as a fact that Nurse Edwards had assessed the claimant as not requiring bed rails. C’s case based on nurse having decided that bed rails were required, but having negligently failed to communicate this, therefore failed (“Ground 2”);

iii) She also found as a fact that even if nurse had assessed C as requiring bed rails, and even if they had been put up on 6 June 2013, they would have been taken down by staff before 15 June 2013. On the balance of probabilities, staff would have reviewed the question of the bed rails given that C’s mental state was poor over this period and she was relatively mobile. Staff would have decided that the continued use of rails was inappropriate given the risks to C (“Ground 3”);

iv) Finally, she found that in the light of C’s history whilst in hospital of waking up confused, having hallucinations, sleep talking and walking and getting out of bed, she was not satisfied that C fell out of bed because of the absence of bed rails (“Ground 4”). [4]

C acknowledged that C must succeed on all four Grounds if the appeal is to succeed. C also accepts that Grounds 2-4 are challenges to J’s findings of fact and that challenges of this nature will only succeed if the court is satisfied that no reasonable judge could have made such a finding… [5]

…I dismiss the appeal… [60]