Hospital Falls And Trauma
Hospitals are responsible for preventing patient falls and trauma that cause serious injuries. Hospitals have a duty to protect their patients. Patients in the care of hospital staff, especially those more susceptible to accidents, rely on providers to ensure their safety. The families of patients expect that the hospital staff will keep their family members from being hurt.
Patients who are injured while in the hospital may be able to seek compensation for their injuries. Accidents where patients fall while being moved, fall from bed, are hit or struck by objects, are cut or punctured by objects, or otherwise are injured by hospital staff or equipment all fall within this category.
Hospital falls and trauma injuries are considered NEVER EVENTS. This means they should never occur and, when they do, it’s almost always because of some type of medical negligence.
If you believe you or a family member fell or was injured while in the hospital, please submit your case for evaluation so we can further examine the exact circumstances you experienced.
Who Should File a Hospital Fall or Trauma Lawsuit?
If you have been seriously injured as the result of a hospital fall due to negligence on the part of your health care provider, you may be able to hold them responsible for your injuries.
You may be able to receive compensation for your injuries if the following requirements are present in your case:
- The health care provider had a duty to you as a patient at the time of your injury. Hospitals are expected to have reasonable policies and practices in place as compared to other similar facilities and to provide an environment to patients that is reasonably safe.
- The duty of reasonable safety was breached. Once the duty has been established, it must be demonstrated that the doctor or health care professional breached that duty. The provider must do something less reasonable, less careful, and less skilled to you, the patient, than would be expected in a similar facility or by a similar health care provider.
- The breach of duty was the direct cause of your fall and your injuries.
How Do Hospital Falls and Trauma Happen?
Patients are vulnerable in hospital settings. They are sick, injured, medicated, and sometimes disoriented. Falls and other trauma injuries are foreseeable where patients are left unattended, staff are not trained in handling patients properly, or equipment, such as beds, are not properly maintained.
In the absence of negligence, a hospital patient should never be injured from falling while in the care of the medical staff. Negligence that causes the majority of falls can include:
- The patient is either not assessed or is incorrectly assessed when determining if the patient is a fall risk.
- The patient becomes a fall risk at some point during their stay, such as with the administration of certain medications or after a procedure, but the patient is either not re-assessed or is incorrectly assessed when determining if the patient is a fall risk.
- Fall precautions, policies and procedures are not in place or are not properly followed.
- Medical staff are not properly trained on the proper use of equipment, such as hospital beds and transfer equipment.
- Medical equipment and supplies are not properly handled by medical staff causing additional incidents such as hitting or striking a patient, laceration or puncture wounds, or other hospital traumas.
Hospital falls in particular can, and should, be prevented. Hospitals sometimes breach the duty they have to their patients for various reasons. Some of the most common are:
- Nurse shortages
- Lack of proper policies and procedures
- Improper training of staff
- Improper transfer techniques
- Inefficient work environments
- Slippery floors
- Hospital negligence
- Poor lighting
- Equipment in rooms and hallways that get in the way
- Being weak from illness or surgery
- Being in new surroundings
Many hospitals across the country are going to great lengths to implement measures to avoid patient falls within their walls. They are being more attentive to patients who they have identified as high risk. However, many hospitals have failed to take the measures necessary to ensure the safety of their patients.
What Types of Injuries Result From Hospital Falls and Trauma?
Who are the High-Risk Patients?
Almost anybody of any age is at risk of falling in a hospital for a variety of reasons. Patients of all ages can become seriously injured by falling in a hospital. Patients of any age can become the victim of other hospital traumas and accidents.
However, the risk of dangerous falls and injuries increases as the age of the average patient increases. 22% of patients in U.S. hospitals are now 74 years old or older. Not only does this make slipping, falling, and other injuries more likely, it also means these injuries have more serious consequences. For the elderly, the chances of breaking a bone after a fall can be much more devastating than a younger person.
But, in reality, most patients, especially those in surgical, cardiac, oncology, and geriatric wards, could be considered high risk. Many times, a patient who has been lying in a hospital bed for a long period of time can become dizzy and fall just from standing too quickly.
If a patient calls for a nurse for help to the restroom, waits too long for the nurse to come, and attempts to go on their own, anything from the type of procedure, to the type of medication, to simply the length of time they were laying down can lead to a fall.
Patients with altered mobility, those who are on multiple drugs, and those who have recently come out of surgery or have lost a lot of blood are also at high risk for falling, regardless of their age.
Steps Hospitals Must Take to Protect Patients
Although not all falls and hospital traumas are preventable, most of them are. Hospitals are required to have policies, procedures, and protocols in place to ensure patient safety and minimize the risk to medical staff and patients.
Medical staff, including nurses, doctors, and all personnel interacting with patients, should be properly trained on handling patients with high risk status, as well as the proper procedure for moving patients—such as from bed to wheelchair—and how to use and manage hospital equipment. The staff should also be aware of what situations and circumstances may put patients at risk and how to fix them.
For instance, if there is equipment in an undesignated location that a patient or staff member could trip over, medical staff would be comfortable with the procedure for removing the equipment from that area.
As another example, nurses and medical staff should be properly trained on the use of medical beds, specifically bed alarms which notify nurses when a patient is moving or attempting to get up from the bed.
Today, with technology changing so quickly in the medical field, it can be more difficult for medical staff to stay up-to-date with current procedures. However, this does not excuse the medical facility from liability for a patient falling or being injured while in their care.
In addition, all hospitals have tools and equipment (safety belts, lifts, etc.) that are supposed to be utilized while caring for patients to prevent them from falling. However, many times the equipment is not used when needed leading to hospital falls and trauma injuries.
Hiring A Dallas Hospital Fall Lawyer
Defending the rights of you and your family against hospital negligence can be an uphill battle. Let Van Wey, Metzler & Williams stand by your side. With over 30 years of experience, our firm has successfully pursued countless cases against hospitals for various negligent acts.
We are here for you. Call us today!