Second Brighton hospital patient ‘drank cleaning fluid’

Posted On 12 Sep 2018 at 6:04 pm

An inquest into the death of a Brighton hospital patient who drank Flash floor cleaning fluid was told that another patient had previously drunk toilet cleaner.

Joan Blaber, 85, died in September last year six days after drinking Flash left by her bedside at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.

Asked by Brighton and Hove coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley about the toilet cleaner episode, housekeeper Daniel Gonzales said: “Apparently a patient that had dementia took it and drank it.”

Mr Gonzales said: “It may just be a story.”

The inquest was told that there was a system of jugs and that Mrs Blaber died after drinking from the wrong jug.

But during questioning by the coroner, Mr Gonzales accepted that “there were never enough jugs to go around so people didn’t stick to the system”.

He also agreed when the coroner said: “There may have been colour coding but it wasn’t anything that you’d been told about.”

Mr Gonzales also said that there were door codes to keep cleaning fluids safe from patients – some of whom had dementia. But doors were left open or the codes were written on the doors, rendering the safeguard pointless.

Earlier today (Wednesday 12 September) agency cleaners told the inquest that the hospital gave them no training or induction despite the fact that they were using hazardous substances.

One, Kayleigh Regan, in written evidence, said: “I was surprised that there was no real structure to the cleaning process.

“The cleaning cupboard was never locked.

“A few weeks later (after Joan Blaber died) I was asked to sign a statement about training which I did and which I later regretted as I didn’t receive any training.

“A hospital supervisor did tell me not to leave cleaning products lying around. Apart from that I received no induction.”

But Mr Gonzales said that cleaning trolleys were sometimes left unattended.

And another agency cleaner Ashley Le May said that while he received training from his agency employer, Green Mop, of Hove, he received no training or induction at the Royal Sussex.

Mr Le May said that he was just given a radio and sent to clean different parts of the building.

The inquest also heard that morphine-based painkilling patches were found on Mrs Blaber’s skin days after they should have been removed.

In the meantime she had been given a different type of painkilling patch – oxycodone – while the original buprenorphine patches appear to have gone unnoticed.

Intensive care consultant Alex Harrison didn’t think that the painkillers would have left Mrs Blaber, a widow from Lewes, so confused that she picked up the wrong jug.

Dr Harrison said: “It’s unlikely that they would have been affecting her.”

Miss Hamilton-Deeley asked: “Is this sloppy nursing? Or is it worse than that?”

The coroner reiterated that it had taken a week before the police had been notified about Mrs Blaber’s death, hampering the investigation into whether it was a malicious act rather than accidental.

At the start of the day she discharged a juror for carrying out independent research into the case since the inquest had opened.

The juror was told that he lucky not to have been fined as he was dismissed.

The inquest continues.

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