Hospital falls are often a preventable health issue but an increasingly common reason for patients making a claim for clinical negligence for fall-related injuries.
For patients who fall while receiving medical care in hospital, they can experience further injury, pain and distress. As well as physical injuries, this could lead to a prolonged stay in hospital and loss of independence.
A lot of falls are unfortunate accidents. But, particularly for older people and vulnerable patients more likely to fall, many incidents of falls in hospital could have been prevented if the hospital had followed risk assessment measures. When failure to do so or unsatisfactory nursing care leads to injuries resulting from a fall in hospital, patients may be able to claim compensation.
When are falls in hospital caused by medical negligence?
Hospitals have a duty of care to carry out risk assessments for vulnerable patients more likely to fall while in their care. These patients deemed at high risk should be monitored more closely by staff.
Patients at risk of falling in hospital may require one-to-one care, to not be left unattended in circumstances where they might fall, such as using the bathroom, and ensuring their bed sides are kept raised to prevent falling out. Hospitals also need to ensure nurses answer patients’ call bells for assistance in a timely manner to prevent at-risk patients trying to get out of bed by themselves. If they are to be transferred to another setting, a moving and handling risk evaluation should also be carried out.
Many claims for compensation for falls in hospital result in failures to properly carry out risk assessments, the consequences of which result in preventable injuries, pain and suffering of patients. Other reasons may be a lack of nursing care or failure to follow conduct or policies such as the Trust’s fall prevention policy.
Unsatisfactory care can mean patients fall from bed, a hospital trolley, in the bathroom, or using the toilet or commode.
What are the risk factors for falls in hospital?
People from all age groups can fall. But older people, aged 65 and up, are more at-risk due to instability and frailty.
There are many risk factors for falls in hospital, such as:
- History of falling
- Cognitive impairment
- Medical conditions increasing the likelihood of falling, such as Parkinson’s or dementia
- Medication side effects that impact balance
- Dizziness brought on by medical conditions or medication
- Mobility or instability
- Visual impairment
- Continence issues
- Lifestyle factors such as physical inactivity or excessive alcohol consumption
- Unsuitable or missing footwear due to medical conditions such as diabetes
Sometimes, environmental factors such as wet floors, loose carpets, or cables from hospital machinery are the cause of falls in hospital.
Why should you make a fall in hospital compensation claim?
When a patient falls in hospital, a place they’re supposed to feel safe, due to errors with their care, they can often suffer physical and mental injuries, loss of confidence, loss of independence and reduced life expectancy.
Any rewards for compensation will help patients rebuild their lives.
There are four factors that determine how much compensation a patient might receive for falls in hospital. These are:
- Physical injury sustained
- Emotional trauma experienced
- Non-financial consequences
- Financial consequences of the fall
Your medical records will be used to establish the first two points, based on the level of physical and mental injury you suffered. Over half of falls among older adults result in an injury. This can range from bruising and grazes to fractures to the hip, pelvis or spine. More serious injuries include skull fractures, severe brain injury or internal injuries. Some fall-related injuries are fatal. If the issues and risk factors remain unaddressed, falls can become recurrent.
Your solicitor will help establish any consequences of the fall, such as loss of amenity or independence that impacts your quality of life, or costs for past or future care. If you are of working age, this may be your ability to work post-incident that results in loss of earnings.
Compensation helps ensure a patient’s financial situation is not impacted by the fall in hospital, as well as to cover the pain and suffering caused by the incident.
How can Medical Solicitors support your claim for falls in hospital due to negligence?
As specialist medical negligence lawyers in the UK, our experts at Medical Solicitors have extensive experience of dealing with claims arising out of avoidable falls in hospitals.
We have also established strong working relationships with leading medical experts who we call upon to provide evidence and judgement about your experience as well as assess your ongoing needs.
As a Lexcel accredited law firm that has been praised for its compliance and case management, Medical Solicitors can help make your medical negligence claim as stress-free as possible. We have offices across Yorkshire in Sheffield, York and Hull, so our medical negligence team is well positioned to help clients across the UK who are looking to make a medical negligence claim for falls in hospital due to negligence.
If breach of duty and causation are admitted before a claim settles, we may be able to apply for interim payments – where you receive a proportion of the estimated final compensation early – which can be used to begin private therapies that will aid your recovery. We can also advise on any benefits you may be entitled to and where to find support.
We conduct most of our clinical and medical negligence claims under ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreements, also known as Conditional Fee Agreements. So, our clients do not have to worry about how they can possibly afford to pay for the legal costs of anaesthetic awareness claims. You have nothing to lose in speaking to us.