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Thursday 8 December 2016

Hospital worker awarded €16k after faeces slip

'Judge Comerford said Ms Mooney's place of work had been unsafe that day and found the hospital negligent.' (stock photo)
'Judge Comerford said Ms Mooney's place of work had been unsafe that day and found the hospital negligent.' (stock photo)

A catering assistant who claimed she suffers ongoing whiplash-type injuries since slipping on human faeces while working at St James's Hospital in Dublin has been awarded €16,000 damages in the Circuit Civil Court.

Rachel Mooney (41) told the court that, on the morning of February 10, 2013, she had been carrying trays with dishes to a "darkish" bedroom in the William Wilde Ward of the hospital when she slipped on faecal matter and fell backwards.

Ms Mooney told her barrister, Caroline Williams, that a ward attendant and a nurse came to her assistance after hearing the loud noise of the trays and dishes hitting the floor.

She said her trousers were covered with faeces and she had felt "totally embarrassed". She had pain in her neck, head and shoulders. Ms Mooney, a mother-of-two of Priory Hall, Terenure, Dublin, said she felt stiffness in her upper body in the following days and attended physiotherapy sessions.

Difficulty

She told Judge Francis Comerford she has ongoing pain in her arm and has difficulty carrying and lifting. She sued St James's Hospital.

The hospital denied negligence and claimed the faeces had been on the floor for only a short period of time.

It alleged that a patient had been "taken short" while on their way to the toilet.

The hospital argued that night lights were on and the spillage had been visible. It claimed Ms Mooney's ongoing injuries were due to a degenerative condition.

Judge Comerford said Ms Mooney's place of work had been unsafe that day and found the hospital negligent.

He initially awarded her €32,000 damages but found her 50pc liable for contributory negligence and reduced her award to €16,000.

"It was not an unusual type of danger as people working in hospitals are aware there may be body fluids spillage on the floor. Ms Mooney should have made sure the floor was safe," the judge said.

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