Tragic Consequences from a Fall at a Hospital

Published: 15th September 2016

An 86 year old lady fell at home breaking her right hip.  She had a hip replacement at Barnsley Hospital and, with physiotherapy, was recovering well.  She was likely to be discharged very soon. Then, during the night, she fell out of bed.

This was her fourth fall while in a hospital.  Despite repeated complaints of pain in her left hip, she was not x-rayed until 10 days later. It was discovered that she had suffered a fracture of the femur.

As often happens with older people, after this second fracture she did not recover well at all.  The pain and inconvenience became too much and she basically stopped trying.

But the simple truth is she should never have fallen in hospital.  Because of her age, confusion and her incontinence, she was obviously at a high risk of falling. And any fall would likely end in a bad injury.

Hospitals have a whole list of measures that they can take to reduce the risks of falling. They can raise bedsides, put patients close to the nurses’ station where they can be seen, check on them regularly or simply lower the bed.  As it was, nothing was done to lower the risk of her falling.  She was put in a room where she was invisible to staff.

We will never know whether the fall caused her to deteriorate mentally. But after the fall she went from being an independent lady, living on her own to moving into a nursing home. She never fully recovered.

Following a letter of claim from Liddys Solicitors, the hospital admitted that she had fallen three times before in hospital and that they should have taken measures to reduce the risk of falls. Though they denied that it caused her Alzheimer’s to accelerate.

The case was settled for £22,000.

If you or a loved one are in hospital and at high risk of falls, ask the hospital if you can see the risk assessment that has been carried out.  If it is not completed properly, the right steps will not be taken to keep the risk low and the consequences can be terrible.

Doctors and nurses do a difficult job but even so they are expected to use reasonable skill and care.  Mostly they do their job very well.  But when they do not, the effects can be devastating for the patient and their family.  It is then right that they receive damages to help them pick up the pieces and put their life back on track.

If you have, or know of someone who has, fallen in a hospital and injured themselves then give Liddy’s a call on 01226 731 314 to see what we can do for you.