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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Scots Law
Satisfied Customers: 12288
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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I am a staff nurse. I was instructed to get help from a

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Hi,I am a staff nurse. I was instructed to get help from a nurses assistant and treat a patient's shingles by applying ointment. I asked one nurses assistant to help, but she refused on the grounds that she was in a high risk category for contracting shingles. I asked another nursing assistant but she, having heard the first, refused to help on the same grounds. I decided to treat the patient alone.The patient was aphasic and could only walk with assistance. I treated her on a bed in the treatment room. During the treatment I turned away to pick up a swab and heard a hollow sound which was obviously that of the patients head impacting the floor. I hadn't experienced the sound before. I turned round and the patient was conscious, lying on the floor.I am aware that I should have left the treatment room at this point to inform senior staff. I feared repercussions for attempting to carry out the treatment alone and did not do so. Instead I sat the patient in a chair and applied ice packs to the area. I did not inform anyone of the accident, my shift was over, and I went home.That night the patient died from complications of a skull fracture.I have been suspended but not yet charged by the police.Although this situation was caused by a moments inattention. The patient died because, fearing repercussions, I didn’t report it. Could this constitute “wicked recklessness” and mean that I could be tried for murder in a Scottish court?

I am a solicitor in Scotland. No, you would never be tried for murder. For minder there has to be intent to kill. There was no intent to kill here, this was an accident. The result of the failure to report the accident may be that loss of life has resulted from wrongful conduct. It would have to be proved that had you reported the incident, the patient could have been treated and would have lived. So at worst the charge against you would be that of culpable homicide, not murder.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Thank you for your reply. I’m glad it won’t be seen as murder. May I ask, do you think it’s most likely that I will be charged with Culpable Homicide even if it’s unclear whether the lady would have lived or not had I reported the incident?

They have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you caused the death. If it is unclear it’s unlikely they will prosecute.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
If the patient was fatally wounded when she fell, then my not reporting it is fine. If she wasn’t fatally wounded, my not reporting it is culpable homicide! I didn’t know if she was fatally wounded or not, I showed callous disregard.Or is what you’re saying that in both cases they will think I am guilty of culpable homicide but they’ll let me off in the first scenario?I showed the same disregard for the patient’s safety when I decided to risk working alone after being told not to. An act that definitely caused the fall leading to injury and death. I think that alone should be enough for me to be prosecuted. Am I wrong?In my mind I’ve murdered someone. I want to be prosecuted and I want to plead guilty to show that lady’s family I understand what I’ve done and that I’m sorry.

You are only guilty of culpable homicide if she could have been saved had you reported what was otherwise just an accident.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I’m sorry if I sounded upset in my last message. I’m not angry with you. I’m very grateful to you for giving me your time. I know nothing of the legal system. Please would you indicate the size of tip you’d like and may I contact you again if I need help as things develop?

Thank you for your reply. Any tip is at your discretion but always appreciated.

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Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Sorry, the app didn’t seem to give the tip.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Review and £10 tip sent via website. Thank you so much.