Health board admits safety failings

01 Feb 2012

A health board's failure to put in place a strategy to safely manage and control the risks of exposure to bacteria led to a woman contracting Legionnaires' disease, a court has been told.

Lanarkshire Health Board (LHB) was fined £24,000 after the "entirely avoidable" chain of events resulted in the 64-year-old hospital patient being diagnosed with the potentially fatal form of pneumonia.

At Hamilton Sheriff Court, the health board admitted breaching section three of the Health and Safety at Work Act over the incident at Hartwoodhill Hospital in November 2008.

The woman was taken to Wishaw General Hospital after becoming "gravely unwell" at Hartwoodhill, prosecutors told the court.

She was suffering from pneumonia and severe sepsis and diagnosed as having Legionnaires' disease. After undergoing a tracheotomy on December 1 the woman returned to Hartwoodhill on December 23.

A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found legionella bacteria was present in three sources in the water system at the hospital and that a "suitable and sufficient assessment" of the risks from the potential presence of legionella bacteria to people using the facilities had not been carried out.

Copyright Press Association 2012

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