Hospital Fall Lawyers in Denver
Hospital patients should not hit the floor with anything but the soles of their feet. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality defines a fall in this setting as “an unplanned descent to the floor with or without injury to the patient.” Here at Leventhal Puga & Braley P.C. we are concerned with the cases that do cause injury.
In our experience, falls are the most common never event in healthcare – meaning something that should never be allowed to happen. Between 700,000 and 1 million people fall in medical centers every year. Approximately 30% of these falls result in injury.
When someone is checked into a hospital, he or she is already ill or injured. If medical staff neglect a vulnerable patient for hours on end, or fail to take important precautions, that patient can suffer a preventable fall and additional injuries.
Our Denver trial lawyers regularly pursue claims against these negligent medical providers, and we can help your family, too. If you suspect hospital negligence was the reason your loved one fell, we will investigate. Call (877) 433-3906 for a no-cost consultation. We handle medical malpractice claims across the United States.
Age is a major factor when it comes to the risk of falling, and hospitals know this. Patients older than 60, who are female, with a low body mass index, and the presence of two or more conditions, are statistically more likely to fall. Here are some other risk factors:
- Impaired balance or gait,
- Altered mobility,
- A history of falling,
- Impaired cognition,
- Dizziness or vertigo,
- Orthostatic hypotension,
- Muscle weakness or degeneration,
- Frequent need to use the bathroom,
- Visual impairment, and
- Certain medications such as benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, and sedatives.
According to the AHRQ, fall prevention isn’t just managing a patient's underlying risk factors – it’s optimizing the hospital's physical design and environment. Every staff member has a part to play. There are a number of practices that, studies have shown, do reduce falls; but not all hospitals bother to use them – and when they do, they may not use them systematically.
Medical negligence is healthcare that fails to meet the standard of care. That means the patient is not receiving the level of care one would expect from a reasonable healthcare provider under the same circumstances. Hospital negligence is a type of malpractice that leads to patient injury or death. Carelessness, poor training, miscommunication, or dereliction of duty may cause a lapse in care by the hospital staff.
Negligence is not an intentional act. Negligence often occurs because a staff member doesn’t do what they are supposed to do, such as following standard procedures when lifting a patient or moving them from one bed to another. A fall could also result because an administrator failed to provide adequate staffing to protect and monitor patients.
To prove hospital negligence, you have to prove the standard of care in a given situation. If the care provided did not live up to this standard, then the hospital is negligent. For example, hospital staff are trained on specific procedures to safely transfer a patient from a wheelchair to an operating table. If these procedures are not being applied and the patient falls, the hospital is negligent.
Additional factors that may contribute to hospital falls include:
- Slippery floors
- Faulty bed alarms
- Unsupervised patients
- Bulging or uneven carpet
- Poorly lit rooms and hallways
- Debris left in rooms or hallways
- Unserved patients during operating
- Failure to complete a fall assessment
In our experience, patients – especially older adults – are likely to suffer:
- Head trauma, including traumatic brain injury and intracranial bleeding, which can be fatal.
- Broken bones, especially in the wrists and hips.
- Lacerations, which can lead to serious, hospital-acquired infections.
- Internal bleeding, usually surrounding a broken bone.
When a patient falls in a hospital, the body simply may not be able to handle another injury at that point. The medical bills will go up, and the prognosis may worsen. That is why preventing falls is a public health issue, and an issue of patient safety as well.
People often think of malpractice as something doctors do, but patients can be seriously harmed by negligent acts committed by administrators, nurses, or attendant staff members. Most of the care a patient receives in a hospital will be provided by a hospital employee. That makes the hospital directly responsible for a patient fall.
The following types of compensation may be available in a medical malpractice suit resulting from a patient fall:
- The cost of treatment for new injuries
- Lost wages
- Emergency room care
- Long-term medical expenses
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Loss of future income due to reduced capacity to work
- Chronic pain, medical aids, disfigurement, and reduced quality of life
Whether your loved one collapsed, slid from a bed or chair to the floor, was dropped, or tripped and fell, this is something that simply should not happen in a healthcare setting. Fall intervention, such as assigning a patient to a special room, providing bed rails, assigning a sitter, using video surveillance, placing the patient close to a nurses’ station, and providing bathroom assistance, is both necessary and the hospital’s duty. (The use of physical restraints as fall prevention is generally discouraged.)
If you or a loved one suffered a fall while checked in to a Denver medical center, call Leventhal Puga & Braley P.C. at (303) 759-9945. Our trial lawyers have handled hundreds of similar cases. We know how to read confusing medical records, how to uncover vital evidence, and how to present a case to a jury. Our clients come first, and we take it personally when the healthcare system fails them. Call today for a no-cost initial consultation.