Nurse who hurt wrist falling at ERI sues health chiefs for £350,000

ERI Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Picture; Greg Macvean

ERI Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Picture; Greg Macvean

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An emergency nurse who was hurt after falling at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary is suing NHS Lothian for £350,000 in compensation.

Kathleen McLeish, 60, was preparing to show visiting consultants a resuscitation room when she fell.

The practitioner told a court that she came down with “a thud” on the floor and banged into a trolley. She fractured her wrist and later underwent surgery for external fixation and developed complex regional pain syndrome.

Ms McLeish, from Aberlady in East Lothian, told the Court of Session in Edinburgh that on June 10, 2011 she had been standing at a computer requesting X-rays when she became aware of someone to her right.

She found it was two visiting consultants from Birmingham Children’s Hospital and they had a brief discussion about paediatric resuscitation.

She offered to show them round and told the court: “I was very proud of our A&E department.” She was told they had another lecture to attend, but they requested to see a resuscitation room.

She saw a domestic worker was in one of the rooms and said: “I was aware she had been dry sweeping.”

Ms McLeish said she asked if she minded if they came in. “She said ‘no’ and I immediately walked into the room,” she said.

She said she turned to speak to the visitors when she suddenly fell. As she tried to push herself up she was aware she could not put weight on her left hand. She used the trolley she had banged into to help pull herself up.

“One of the accompanying doctors made a sweeping gesture with her arm and said ‘look the floor is damp all the way up under there’,” she said. She added it appeared “streaky”.

She told her counsel, Leo Hofford QC, that she had not noticed it and that there was no “wet floor” sign.

She said the cleaner had come in a couple of times to see how she was. “She just said ‘I’m really sorry. I was just about to say be careful but you were in before I said it’. She apologised several times,” she said.

After treatment she later noticed swelling to her fingers and was experiencing pain and was eventually told she had complex regional pain syndrome.

She later made a phased return to work but said: “I couldn’t suture at all initially and not for a long time. My grip strength is still very poor.”

Her retirement age was 66 but the court heard one expert believed she will be unable to continue work beyond 61.

NHS Lothian is contesting the action, arguing that any loss was her fault or she contributed to it. It maintained that any doubt over her ability to continue working to a normal retirement age was unconnected to any injuries sustained.

The hearing before Lord Mulholland continues.