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Patient Injured After Fall From Hospital Bed

Falling out of your bed at home may result in little more than a bump on the head or a bruise on the knee. However, falling from a hospital bed can be much more serious. Hospital beds are higher up over hard ground, and may have the patient connected with life supporting wires and tubes. When a sick patient falls from a hospital bed, they may suffer serious injuries if the hospital staff did not take measure to keep the patient safe.

In a case study from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the authors looked at a case where a patient fell from the bed, resulting in a severe laceration to her foot, requiring immediate medical care. The title, “Falling Through the Crack (in the Bedrails),” highlights the problem of unsecured patients falling from a hospital bed.

In this case, a 65-year-old woman with cirrhosis was being treated for septic shock and respiratory failure. She was placed on a ventilator and admitted to the ICU. The patient was restrained to prevent her from pulling out her lines and tubes. To perform a procedure, the bed rail was lowered on one side, and a wrist restraint was removed. However, after the procedure, staff did not re-attach the wrist restraint or put up the bed rail.

A few moments later, alarms went off, sending nurses into the patient’s room. The patient had pulled out her nasogastric tube and breathing tube and she was bleeding from a large laceration on her foot, where it was trapped between the bed rail and the bed. The patient’s oxygen levels were sinking, requiring re-intubation. The cut on her foot was sutured, and she was placed on antibiotics. After a week and a half, the patient was finally able to be discharged.

According to the case study, the injuries in this case resulted from failing to put the bed rail back up, failing to attach the wrist restraint, and not communicating with the bedside nurse that the team was performing a bedside procedure. Luckily for the patient in this case, the injuries were relatively minor. Unfortunately, not all patients are so lucky.

Rita Phelps, 74, was spending the night in an intensive care unit, where the hospital staff had failed to raise one of her bedside safety rails. During the night, Phelps rolled, falling out of bed, striking her head on the floor. She died within hours from the head trauma. One of Ms. Phelps’ daughters put it simply, “If a nurse had raised the bed she would still be alive today.”

In Florida, a 76-year-old patient was admitted for a stroke. After she was admitted to the hospital, staff deemed her to be a high fall risk, and reportedly turned on a bed alarm and raised two bed rails. However, hours later, a nurse walked in to find the patient lying face down on the floor, bleeding from her nose, with tooth fragments on the floor. She died the following day. Her husband claimed the hospital was negligent for failing to properly care for the patient, allowing her to fall to her death.

If you or a loved one has been injured or emotionally harmed as the result of a negligent doctor, the Gilman & Bedigian team of experienced attorneys is fully equipped to handle your claim. Our staff includes a physician and attorneys with decades of malpractice litigation experience. We focus on getting you compensation for your injuries so you can focus on getting better and moving forward with your life.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

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