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Woman dies from hospital-contracted Legionnaires

Posted in: Medical Negligence 

68-year-old Terry Brooks from Bath, died from Legionnaire’s disease contracted at the Royal United Hospital in July of last year, an inquest has heard.  The inquest also heard that due to failings in the hospital’s system, the contamination had not been detected.  The disease, which flourishes in water systems that are not kept hot or cold enough, is caused by the Legionella bacteria.  Public Health England, who tested the water supplies at the William Budd ward of the hospital, as well as supplies at three other homes that Mr Brooks had visited during the period of his contracting the illness, concluded that the only supply containing the bacteria was in the hospital’s ward.

Ward water temperature too low

Mr Brooks had been being treated for cancer as an inpatient at the hospital when he contacted the illness.  The person in charge of utilities at the hospital, Brian Gubb, in giving evidence at the inquest, revealed that upon investigation following Mr Brooks’ death, it was found that the water temperature in the ward was too low.  The water temperature, which should have been a minimum of 50 degrees Celsius, was sitting at between 35C and 40C.  This is an ideal temperature for the bacteria to multiply and thrive.

Further to the findings, it was discovered that the pump in a separate water loop that fed the ward for vulnerable patients, was defective.  As a result of this, water was not being returned to the boiler to be heated to the required temperature to keep patients safe from the disease.  It was also revealed that monthly Legionella tests had failed to reveal the problem.

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