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NHS trust faces fine after surgery patient sustains serious burns

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospital trust has apologised after a one of its patients needed skin grafts for burns to his buttock and hip.

What happened

Health and safety inspector, Mike Wilcock, was undergoing an operation to remove a cyst on his kidney at Maidstone hospital in Kent, when he suffered serious burns caused by a warming blanket.

The court heard that the temperature of the blanket, which can rise to 50C in less than an hour, had soared during the operation because a cold saline bag had been touching a sensor.

The 58-year-old’s injuries were only discovered after the surgery, when he was referred to a burns unit. He has since needed repeated hospital treatment for the injury, and has also developed heart problems.

An investigation into the incident found that, since the hospital trust had acquired the equipment 17 months before, they had committed eight breaches of duty.

These breaches included; failing to provide sufficient training on how to use the equipment, and not properly investigating two previous incidents involving the machine.

What was the outcome?

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS trust admitted failing in its duty under the Health and Safety Act 1974, and is facing a fine of between £200,000 and £300,000.

After the hearing, Mr Wilcock said:

“I have changed my perception of life. I have scars that will last for
the rest of my life, causing pain and discomfort.

“This equipment is used in lots of hospitals. That worries me. Are other
hospitals using the equipment training their staff to use it
properly? How could two previous patients have suffered
minor injuries and not be noticed? How many
other hospitals has that happened?

“I have no personal animosity for the individuals concerned. I know they
have been personally upset by the incident. If I had been a child
or a vulnerable older adult, we could have been talking about
a death because of the seriousness of the burn.”

If you have been affected by medical negligence, and you would like expert advice, contact the Hampson Hughes Solicitors Medical Negligence Team today on 0151 242 1025 or email

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