Falling is a danger that many patients face during hospital stays. Hospital falls and falls in nursing homes have become increasingly common. Every year in the United States, between 700,000 and 1,000,000 people experience falls in hospitals. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every five falls results in serious or life-threatening injuries. These injuries add additional pain, suffering, and recovery time to whatever condition the patient had that was the basis of the hospital stay in the first place. Facilities often have internal policies and procedures to identify high risk patients and implement mechanisms to prevent those patients from falling.
Who is a High-Risk Patient?
- Confused patients or patients with dementia
- Patients with little ability to walk or transfer safely
- Patients who need to use the restroom frequently
- Patients taking medication with side effects including drowsiness or imbalance
Falls can be accidental when they occur among low risk patients and are due to circumstances such as tripping over tubing or medical equipment, falling out of bed, or falling due to an environmental hazard, such as a wet floor. There are also anticipated falls that can be attributed to underlying patient risk factors. Unanticipated falls occur among patients who are low risk, but suffer an adverse event, such as fainting, stroke, heart attack, or seizure. Behavior falls are also common, these occur when a patient gets unruly or acts out for one reason or another, or falls on purpose.
Protentional Fall Injuries Include:
- Internal bleeding
- Muscle strains, sprains, and tears
- Fractures, broken bones, particularly in the wrist, ankle, arm, and hip
- Head injuries, traumatic brain injuries
Unfortunately, physicians, nurses, and other staff often violate policies and procedures meant to prevent patient falls. If you or a loved one has suffered from a fall, that could have been prevented, while receiving care or medical attention, you may have a valid medical malpractice claim against your provider. The team at Younker Hyde Macfarlane has significant experience representing persons injured by falls and medical malpractice.
How Can Hospitals Reduce the Risk of Patients Falling?
By taking the right steps, hospitals can greatly reduce the chances of a patient falling and suffering a serious injury. This is critical because a fall can drastically alter a patient’s quality of life; it is even possible for a patient to suffer fatal injuries from a fall. It is also important to make sure all providers in a hospital are aware of a patient's risk of falling. That way, if a new provider or a nurse is pulled in to assist with a patient in passing, they can quickly learn the severity of a patient's risk for falling.
- Assist patients with showering, changing clothes, and using the restroom
- Proper lighting
- Provide patients who have difficulty following instructions or who are disoriented with safety companions who keep constant watch and give aid to prevent falls
- Position bed in lowest position possible
- Alter bed alarms that sound when a patient leaves the bed from 10 seconds to 2 seconds for high risk patients
- Use bed and chair alarms
- Keep patients occupied with activities that make them less apt to get out of bed
- Quick responses by nurses to calls from patients
- Enlist the aid of patients’ families and educate patients and families about fall prevention
- Clean floors so there are no slipping or tripping hazards
- Regular safety rounds, where nurses specifically check to make sure that all fall prevention measures are in place
- Properly fit and maintain wheelchairs
Our Attorneys Can Help You
Given the complexity and severity of medical malpractice injuries, it is important to contact an attorney quickly if you have experienced a fall while receiving care. A patient can be badly hurt from a fall in the hospital. Injuries from falling can exacerbate the preexisting condition, or it can cause a whole new set of health problems. The attorneys at Younker Hyde Macfarlane will assist you in evaluating and prosecuting all valid claims you may have.
Contact the Medical Malpractice Team at Younker Hyde Macfarlane
When a patient fall is the result of negligence, the patient may file a claim for damages. For more information about your legal options related to your fall and medical malpractice, please contact our team of medical malpractice attorneys today. The legal team at Younker Hyde Macfarlane will fight diligently for you and your legal needs.