Wins £800,000 for Back Injury
Tuesday, 15 February, 2000
Karl Douglas : "No amount of money is proper compensation"
"I loved my job and would give anything to go back to
A former intensive care nurse has accepted £800,000 compensation
after injuring his back at work.
In what is thought to be one of the largest ever settlements for a workplace
back injury, Bexley and Greenwich Health Authority agreed to pay the money
to Karl Douglas in an out-of-court settlement.
Mr. Douglas, then 28, injured his back lifting a 12-stone patient at
Brook Hospital, in east London, in 1992 because no mechanical hoist was
He lifted the patient with the assistance of just one other colleague,
though it was recommended at the time that four members of staff were
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which negotiated the settlement, says the
hospital, then run by Greenwich Health Authority, did not give adequate training
on lifting and the correct equipment was not available.
Tore a disk
Mr. Douglas had previously suffered a back injury lifting a patient on the
same ward, but the second incident tore a disk in his lower vertebrae leaving
him in permanent pain.
Surgeons were unable to operate for three years because they could not find
the source of the pain.
Mr. Douglas, who had been working as an intensive care (ICU) nurse for eight
years, left nursing but found even desk jobs impossible. He suffered
intermittent urine retention, requiring regular catheterisation and found it
difficult to dress himself, bath or drive.
He became dependent on his parents and state benefits for living expenses and
has had to invest in changes to his home, such as a special shower and ground
Mr. Douglas said: "I loved my job and would give anything to go back to
"The NHS is desperate for ICU nurses, but I must put it in the back of my
mind - I'll never work as a nurse again."
Christine Hancock, general secretary of the RCN, said: "Karl was a highly
valued and experienced nurse working in intensive care. Quite apart
from the personal tragedy of a nurse losing his career, the NHS has lost a
dedicated ICU nurse.
"We now know that manual lifting of patients is always dangerous - employers
have no excuse to avoid investment in the right training and equipment."