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Posted on 10th July 2017

Death Of Mental Health Patient Avoidable

The Sussex NHS trust issued an apology following the avoidable death of one of its patients.

An inquest into the death of 32 year old lady has heard that a nurse recommended the patient be moved to a secure unit because she had attempted to commit suicide several times before.

At the hearing, the jury heard how an “inadequate and serious failure” had occurred which lead to handover staff not being told that the patient was high-risk.

Upon admission, the woman was supposed to have one-to-one observation however she was only checked on once every hour. The observation failings allowed the patient to deliberately hang herself with a ligature.

The patient’s mum commented after the inquest “she was a highly intelligent, loving and caring young woman but she was very vulnerable and she was failed. There was no care that day. It’s horrendous”

She continued to say “She may be alive if they actually assessed her and put her on one-to-one observation, she couldn’t have harmed herself”

The jury at the inquest gave their verdict that the patient died because of a “gross failing of medical care” and they commented “By not following procedures, this has had a clear and direct effect on her passing. This is a gross failing of medical care from staff at the hospital”

The chief nurse at the trust, Diane Hull, commented “the lady was a vulnerable young woman under our care and she died in tragic circumstances. For that I am sorry”

Ms Hull also advised the inquest, changes, including replacing bathroom doors with ones where there are no ligature points, had been made to “ensure nothing like this can happen again”


We receive enquiries for people who suffer from mental health problems where they have been misdiagnosed over a number of years. These types of compensation claims are extremely difficult to deal with because often there are no injuries that have arisen from late diagnosis.

This case however does not relate to the diagnosis of mental health problems, it surrounds the care given to a patient. Whilst in specialist care, patients and their family must be able to rely on the correct procedures being followed and this case highlights what could happen if procedures are not followed.

If your loved one has suffered an injury because procedures had not being followed whilst receiving specialist care or if they have suffered from neglect or physical abuse whilst a patient, contact us on 0330 355 9210 or for a free claim assessment.