High Court Upholds Nurse Manual Handling Injury Claim

The High Court in London has upheld a nurse manual handling injury claim for compensation after finding the senior nurse in question not guilty of contributing to her own injuries.

In March 2008, senior nurse Sue Germaine was employed by Epsom Hospital in the Outpatients Department. Arriving early at work one morning to prepare the department for the day´s clinics, she found that contractors had moved the rows of metal seating in the waiting area to lay new flooring but have left them blocking the doors to the consulting rooms.

Sue requested the assistance of porters to move the seating back into its normal position, but was told that none would be available until after lunch. She also requested help from the maintenance department, but was told it was not part of their job description and reported the situation to the project manager who had been in charge of overseeing the contractors.

As the Outpatients Department opened – and patients were arriving who needed somewhere to sit – Sue decided to move the metal rows of seating herself. It was when she moving the last one into place that she injured her back. Sue reported her injury to her line manager and the appropriate incident and injury reports were made.

Sue subsequently had to give up her job due to her injury, and made a nurse manual handling injury claim to recover damages for the pain she had experienced at the time of her injury and compensate for her loss of income. Epsom and St Heller University Hospitals NHS Trust admitted partial liability for Sue´s back injury, but claimed that she had contributed to her injury by not following her manual handling training.

However, at the High Court in London, Judge Simon Brown QC threw out the argument of contributory negligence against Sue´s nurse manual handling injury claim; ruling that the hospital´s training had been specific to a nurse´s role and did not cover the lifting of furniture. Furthermore Judge Brown stated that guidance for nurses of patient handling was that it should be avoided “wherever practicable”. It had not been reasonably practical for Sue to avoid moving the seating in the circumstances of having asked for help and having been denied it.

Sue´s nurse manual handling injury claim will now proceed to be assessed for damages.