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Care home fined after man dies swallowing chlorine tablets

Lomond Court has been ordered to pay £270,000 after James McConnell's death in Fife.

Lomond Court: Staff found the man in pain.
Lomond Court: Staff found the man in pain.

A care home operator has been fined £270,000 over the death of a resident who swallowed chlorine tablets.

James McConnell put the tablets in his mouth and chewed them at Lomond Court care home in Glenrothes, Fife.

The 72-year-old died after being found by staff in pain close to where the cleaning products had been left after a delivery on August 4, 2015.

There was a white tablet on the floor next to him and at least one was in his mouth.

The tub of chlorine tablets were lying open and three of the 200 capsules were missing.

Mr McDonnell sustained injuries to his mouth and tongue as well as vomiting. As a result, he developed aspiration pneumonia which led to his death.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation found prior to Mr McConnell's death, the company failed to assess the risk posed by several chemical products including the chlorine tablets.

The care home operator also failed to have an adequate system of work to manage the deliveries of chemical products or to have an appropriate review procedure in place for deliveries.

HSE inspector Garry Miller said: "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."

Paula Keys, chief operating officer at HC-One, said: "We wholeheartedly apologise to Mr McConnell's family, and whilst nothing can atone for their sad loss, we hope yesterday provided some sense of closure for them.

"We have always been clear that lessons must be learned from this tragic event, as the health and safety of our Residents is our absolute priority.

"When it happened in August 2015, we immediately issued new delivery guidance to our Colleagues and suppliers so that potentially harmful products are securely stored on arrival at our homes, as well as insisting on 'tamper proof' containers for any potentially harmful products.

"A comprehensive internal review was also completed and acted on, and the HSE has approved our new system for handling potentially harmful products."

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