Most people think about hospitals as a place to go to recover from an injury. Unfortunately, the hospital can also be a place that is responsible for causing injuries. Many patients are designated as “fall-risk” if they may be at risk of injury for a slip and fall injury, losing balance, or tumbling out of their bed. When these patients are not properly monitored or cared for, it can leave them at risk of a serious injury.
Patients and Fall Risks in a Hospital
There are a number of reasons someone could be at higher risk of a fall injury. High fall risk can include:
- Age 65 and older;
- A history of falls;
- Cognitive impairment;
- Urinary/fecal incontinence/urgency;
- Balance problems, lower extremity weakness, arthritis;
- Vision problems;
- Use of more than four daily medications or use of psychotropics or narcotics; and
- Alcohol impairment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults. These falls can be costly, with about $50 billion spent on medical costs related to non-fatal fall injuries every year.
Reducing Hospital Fall Risks
An example of just what can happen when a hospital fails to take fall risks measures allegedly caused serious brain injury to a patient in Washington D.C. Maurice Walton was admitted to GW Hospital for rehab following a head injury. When Walton was coming out of the shower in his hospital room, he fell and injured his hip, shoulder, neck, back, and suffered a head injury.
Walton filed a lawsuit against GW hospital for failing to take fall risk measures which caused his temporary and permanent injuries, including causing permanent diminished physical and cognitive function. The lawsuit alleged the hospital staff failed to follow fall prevention measures and failed to provide adequate staffing and nurse coverage.
Hospital Fall Prevention Measures
There are a number of fall prevention measures that doctors and hospitals can put into place. Fall prevention measures can lower the number of fatal and nonfatal fall injuries that happen every year. Some of these strategies include:
- Identify patients with high fall risk
- Set bed alarms
- Do safety rounds
- Lower beds
- Lock bed wheels
- Keep patient rooms clear and free of clutter
- Use scheduled toileting
- Make bedpans and urinals accessible for patients
- Put more nurses on staff, improving the nurse-to-patient ratio
- Provide grab bars and assistive devices
- Use non-skid materials
- Communicate fall risk to staff, patients, and family members
Unfortunately, some medical centers do not want to take all the necessary fall prevention measures because it may increase staffing costs. It is common for places like nursing homes to have staffing problems, with too few healthcare personnel for too many patients. This can leave patients who need assistance unable to get help.
After a Hospital Fall Injury
If you or someone you love has suffered a fall injury in a Philadelphia hospital, you need solid legal representation to make sure you get the compensation that you need and that you deserve. The skilled medical malpractice attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian fight to get compensation for injured patients. Contact our law office online or by calling (800) 529-6162.