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Can you make a clinical negligence claim for a hospital fall?

A fall in hospital can be devastating. It can result in patients, who are already vulnerable, experiencing further injury, distress, pain and in some cases a loss of independence.

In 2016 falls were the most common type of incident to be reported by patients within acute and community hospitals with over 250,000 people reporting an injury as a result of a fall whilst admitted to a hospital.

Falls can cause harm to almost anyone, however, those who are older or more vulnerable can be at risk of sustaining significant injuries that could potentially be life-changing.

Although some falls are avoidable, when a person is at risk of falling whilst in hospital, there should be measures in place to protect them and if there isn’t it could be a case of medical negligence.

As part of a hospital’s bid to ensure the risk of a fall is minimised, patients should initially be assessed and evaluated in case they are at increased risk of a fall compared to the general population of the hospital.

Once this assessment has been carried out, the patient should be monitored closely throughout their time in the hospital.

Risk assessment

Generally, risk assessments should be carried out visually and written up so that any other staff assisting in the care of a patient is aware of the potential risk of falling.

It’s important that staff continue to assess the needs of each individual patient even after they have carried out the initial assessment.

Duty of care

Risk assessments aren’t just a good idea, hospitals have a duty of care to carry them out on patients that may be vulnerable.

The National Institute for Health and Care Experience (NICE) have provided a number of factors that should be taken into account by hospital staff when they are assessing a patient. Some of these factors are listed below:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Continence issues
  • A history of falls
  • Footwear that is unsuitable for hospital floors
  • Missing footwear
  • Health issues that may increase the risk of falling, including dizziness and heart conditions
  • Medication that may affect balance, or bodily functions
  • Postural instability or mobility issues
  • Visual impairment

If an adequate assessment is carried out and one of the above factors are identified within the patient or they are deemed to be at risk of falling for any reason, the patient should be monitored more closely by hospital staff to ensure the patient is safe.

For example, those at a higher risk of falling may require one to one care, and the sides of the beds should be raised and a patient shouldn’t be left unattended in a situation which could potentially result in a fall.

Failing to conduct a risk assessment

As we have already established, it’s important to carry out a risk assessment. Failing to do so could potentially give rise to a clinical negligence case if the patient suffers a subsequent injury.

It may be deemed as negligent care if a fall could have been avoided had the necessary precautions been implemented.

If you or a loved one have received unsatisfactory care that has resulted in an injury due to a fall in hospital please get in touch with a member of our clinical negligence team today.

Our team of medical negligence solicitors are specialists in their field and can advise you through each stage of the claims process, from initial advice to possible treatment and practitioners if necessary.

At Thorneycroft Solicitors we have a dedicated team who specialise in this field alone. We work with the most experienced medical experts, ensuring their involvement from the outset of the claim in order to ensure that your claim is dealt with as efficiently and quickly as possible, allowing you to focus on your recovery and securing the compensation you deserve.

To speak to a member of our team today, call us for free on 0800 1979 345 or complete our online enquiry form.