By Charlotte Nisbet
These are the shocking images of a pensioner’s swollen and bruised face after falling from her hospital bed.
Jean Malcherczyk, now 87, sustained horrific facial injuries after falling from a hospital trolley onto hard flooring at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Greenwich.
Her daughter, Karen, first took her to hospital with minor injuries but after briefly leaving her mum unattended, she was devastated to find her mum with a swollen face, lump on her forehead, cut on her nose, and swelling and bruising to both her eyes.
Despite this, Karen claims 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 medical negligence specialists Hudgell Solicitors.
It is 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 not accepted causing Jean’s brain injury.
Karen, a retired production journalist, said: “After my mum’s fall at home I took her to A&E and she was given painkillers.
“She was otherwise fine, was talking and had no other noticeable injuries.
“However, when I returned that evening, at about 7pm, I 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.
“I was only then informed that my mum had fallen from her hospital trolley during the course of the day and landed face-first on the hard floor.
“She was left semi-naked and exposed on a mattress on the floor.
“I had told them when she went into hospital that she became confused if given painkillers, but they didn’t bother putting bed guards on.
“The hospital didn’t even ring me to tell me she had fallen, despite it being hospital policy that they do so.
“I went berserk, she was on the floor, concussed, and she could not open her eyes and could barely talk.”
Jean, who was 85 at the time, had a CT scan earlier after her admission to hospital, which found nothing abnormal but Karen claims she asked for another to assess her mother’s new injuries, but was told her condition would simply be monitored.
Karen added: “I returned the next day, January 1, 2015, to see my mum and I was horrified once again to find her still lying on the mattress on the floor, with her night dress pulled down exposing her breasts, and the cubicle curtain open.
“Obviously, she had pulled her night dress down not knowing what she was doing, and there was a doctor working on his computer right in front of her.
“I said ‘couldn’t you have done something?’ and he replied ‘she’s not my patient’. That really upset me.”
Karen claims that 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.
She said: “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.
“My mum spent six weeks in hospital before being released but she didn’t return to her normal self.
“Everything had 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.
“She’s now a stranger, my mother has effectively gone”
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.
Jodi Newton, a specialist in medical negligence compensation claims at Hudgell Solicitors 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.
“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.
“Her daughter’s summary of her overall treatment in hospital after her fall is also deeply concerning, saying she was left semi-naked and exposed on a mattress on the floor, with the curtain open, showing complete ignorance with regards to protecting her privacy and dignity.
“Without doubt, the time Mrs Malcherczyk was in hospital led to a massive decline in her health and mental capacity. We will be seeking a settlement which reflects this.”
A spokesperson for Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust said: “As there are ongoing court proceedings, it would be inappropriate for the Trust to make any further comment at this time.”