Psychiatric patient gets €150,000 after jump from window


A MAN with a mental illness who suffered serious leg injuries after jumping from a second-floor window of a psychiatric hospital has secured €150,000 in settlement of his High Court action. The settlement is without admission of liability.

The man’s family had made allegations over the standard of care provided to their brother at St Brendan’s Psychiatric Hospital and also expressed concerns about the terms of the settlement. Their claims were denied.

The man, who has schizophrenia and is aged in his sixties, cannot be identified for legal reasons. He is being cared for in another secure facility.

He sued the HSE over the incident at St Brendan’s Hospital, Rathdown Road, Dublin, on March 12th, 1998, in which he jumped from a window of an upstairs ward and fell heavily to the ground.

It was claimed the hospital was negligent in placing him in an unsuitable ward, failing to install toughened glass in the window frame and not taking steps to prevent a person jumping out of the window.

It was also claimed the severity of the man’s illness was not properly assessed. The HSE denied the claims. Mr Justice John Quirke yesterday approved the settlement of €150,000. It is expected an application will be made later to have the man made a ward of court.

In his action, the man claimed he was admitted on a voluntary basis to the hospital for treatment. He claimed he became unhappy with the level of care he was receiving and became agitated as a result. He was moved to a secure locked ward on the upstairs floor of the hospital.

It was claimed the man, who had a history of self harm and mental illness, became even more agitated in the locked ward which, he alleged, was not supervised. Using a chair, he had climbed out of the ward through the window before jumping.

He sustained fractures to his left hip, heel and wrist, required surgery and subsequently contracted MRSA. Since the incident, he has required a zimmer frame and a wheelchair.

The man’s brother told the court yesterday he was unhappy with the settlement given the impact of the injuries on his brother. The family were concerned €150,000 would not provide for him into the future.

The settlement also meant there could be no full investigation of what was alleged to have occurred at the hospital in regard to the man’s treatment, his brother said.

He was further concerned about how much of the man’s social welfare payments would go towards his care costs as 80 per cent of the man’s weekly payments of €200 were going towards those costs now. The court was asked that the HSE should confirm it would continue to cover the cost of providing care.

The brother also said the man’s needs had not been assessed to see if he is capable of semi-independent living, as the man himself believes.

Mr Justice Quirke, after listening to these concerns, said he would approve the settlement as he believed it was the “best thing” for the man and, if the case went to a full hearing, the man might get less. The court could not engage in any investigative process, he added.