Healthcare worker partially blinded after Trust’s health and safety failures21 January 2013
Lost majority of sight
A healthcare worker who has lost the majority of her sight in her left eye after a service user spat in it has received compensation from her employer.
The 32-year-old is awaiting a corneal transplant in her eye after an incident at Low Moor Resource Centre in Bradford left her with only 20% vision in the eye
She has been told there is a high risk the transplant may leave her blinded or may not improve her vision at all.
She was working as a support worker for adults with challenging behaviour when she was spat at by the service user.
Staff hadn’t been provided with safety goggles
The service user had a reputation for spitting but staff hadn’t been provided with safety goggles. No eye wash was provided by her employer and after she was spat at she attempted to wash her eye out with water.
Over the next days and weeks she began to suffer from pain in her left eye, which became swollen and red. Soon her vision became blurred and she was having difficulty seeing out of the eye.
Her vision has now become so bad that she is only able to see hand movements at a distance of a metre.
After a substantial time away from work she has returned to a lesser position.
More than a year after the accident she contacted her trade union, UNISON, for advice after she realised that her eye wasn’t going to recover.
Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation
UNISON instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation.
Thompsons argued that Bradford District Care NHS Trust failed to risk assess the risk to staff when dealing with patients.
The Trust admitted liability and settled the claim out of court just weeks before trial for £110,000.
The UNISON member said: “When I was spat at I quickly washed out my eye and thought that would be the end of it. The next morning it felt scratchy, like I had an eye lash stuck. Over the next few days things became progressively worse. I was given eye drops by the hospital but they didn’t seem to help.
“When my sight started to go I was terrified. I can no longer drive and need help from family and friends to do certain things. It has affected every part of my life. I’m due to have surgery soon but there are huge risks I may lose sight in that eye altogether.”
Compensation reflects seriousness of injury
Pam Johnson, UNISON Head of Health for Yorkshire and Humberside, said: “The Trust knew this service user had a tendency to spit and should have protected staff by providing goggles. A simple system would have identified the risk and a simple piece of equipment would have saved our member the trauma she has gone through, and even potentially her sight.”
Phil Kyte from Thompsons Solicitors said: “This young woman is facing potential blindness in one eye who due to her perseverance has been able to return to work but in a job a grade below due to the nature of her injuries. The level of compensation reflects the seriousness of her injury as well as the money she has lost and the long term impact on her career.”
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