Dementia Sufferer Dies After Accidental Overdose

A delivery of cleaning products in an unsealed box made to Lomond Court, resulted in 72-year old James McConnell’s death. On the 4th August 2015, the cleaning products were left unattended in the corridor, containing a tub of chlorine tablets described as being the size of a 10 pence piece and similar to mints. The staff from the care home had found Mr McConnell in pain and clearly distressed near to where the cleaning products had been left unsupervised.

There was at least one tablet in his mouth and a white tablet on the floor next to him. The tub of 200 chlorine tablets were lying open with three missing from the packet. Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court heard that Mr McConnell had been vomiting as well has sustaining injuries to his mouth and tongue. He later developed aspiration pneumonia, which had complications resulting in his death.

Prior to Mr McConnell’s death, the Health and Safety Executive found through investigation that the company had failed to asses the risk posed by a number of different chemical products.

They had also failed to recognise a suitable system to manage the deliveries of the chemical products, nor did they, for a period of two years, have a proper review procedure involving the delivery arrangement of the chemical products.

After pleading guilty to breaching Sections 3(1) and 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the HC- ONE Limited of Southgate House, Archer Street, Darlington, County Durham were fined with £270,000.

“This distressing incident confirms the need for anyone handling potentially harmful substances to be extra vigilant in ensuring that they are not left unattended in circumstances where vulnerable people in their care can gain access to them. Suitable procedures need to be put in place and then regularly checked to ensure that they are being followed by everyone, not just for the use of such substances, but also for their delivery, storage and disposal.” The HSE inspector Garry Miller spoke after the hearing.

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