Our clinical negligence team have recently won a hospital fall compensation claim on behalf of the estate of a man who died as a result of the incident. Compensation was paid for the ‘pain and suffering’ he endured before passing away, along with funeral and legal expenses.
Clinical negligence lawyer Oliver Thorne dealt with the hospital fall compensation claim and also represented the family at the inquest
The patient had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease. He was initially admitted to hospital after suffering a fall at home in which he broke his leg.
Following surgery he was placed in a ‘hi-lo’ bed and provided with 1 to 1 nursing care for 10 days to ensure that risks of further falls were minimised.
Two weeks after his operation, he was transferred to a local hospital for further rehabilitation prior to being discharged.
The team at the local hospital team were told about his state of confusion. They devised a Falls Care Plan. However, the decision was taken not to provide him with a ‘hi-lo’ bed. A bed rails assessment was carried out which concluded that bed rails should be deployed.
The gentleman made several attempts whilst at the hospital to climb out of bed. Staff would therefore have been aware of his ability to do so, but the bed rails were left in situ.
Unfortunately when he made another attempt to climb out of bed he suffered a fall, hitting his head in the process. There was a failure on the part of hospital staff to carry out any neurological observations after the fall.
Two days later he was found in bed unresponsive and was transferred to North Devon District Hospital where he subsequently passed away. A post mortem revealed that an acute subdural haematoma accounted for his death.
Oliver argued that bed rails should not have been employed as it increased the risks of the gentleman suffering serious injury if he fell while climbing out of bed.
The NHS carried out a Serious Incident Requiring Investigation (SIRI) and a report was produced which highlighted the fact that he was at risk of suffering a fall. It was evident that extra care should have been taken to avoid the risk of further injury to this elderly gentleman while he was in the care of the hospital.
Despite attempts being made by Oliver to reach an out of court settlement without costly court proceedings, the NHS defended the case. Court proceedings therefore had to be issued and Oliver dealt with this on a No Win, No Fee basis.
The NHS continued to deny liability, claiming that bed rails were used appropriately. However, legal responsibility for the accident leading to the gentleman’s death was eventually admitted for the failure to perform neurological observations and it was agreed these should have been performed at an earlier stage.
This paved the way to a settlement being reached and compensation being paid to the gentleman’s estate.