We represented an elderly woman who had been admitted to a Louisville hospital for dizziness. Upon admission, she was designated a moderate fall risk, despite meeting the requirements for a high risk of falling. The difference in the risk assessments meant that she did not receive increased monitoring or a bed alarm. The bed alarm would have alerted the nursing staff to any attempt by her to get out of bed unassisted.
Although our client had been told not to get out of bed alone, she was given multiple medications by the doctor and nursing staff that caused her to become confused and disoriented. It was alleged that these medications were given to her to quiet her during the night and reduce the nursing staffs need to care for her.
Shortly after midnight, our client was found on the floor of her room next to her bed. She was unconscious. The nursing staff discovered her on the floor during a routine check of her room. The bed alarm never sounded in her room or at the central nurses' station.
Our client was taken for x-rays of her head and spine. An MRI revealed a subdural brain bleed and a fracture of her thoracic vertebrae and left hip and femur.
Due to the severity of her injuries, she became hypotensive and had to wait several days in pain for surgery to be performed on her hip and leg. She spent the next 10 months in a rehab clinic. She walks with a permanent limp and suffers from a brain injury. Her medical bills related to the fall and subsequent injuries totaled almost a quarter of a million dollars.
Our firm vigorously investigated the cause of the fall concerning the bed alarm, inadequate staffing, and training concerning falls risk protocols. We purchased and reconstructed the bed alarm and bed circumstance to demonstrate that, had the bed alarm been properly set, it would have sounded an alarm sufficient to be heard by the nursing staff if they were in the proper location. In addition, we were able to demonstrate through a biomechanical expert that the fall could have caused the brain injury and bone fractures.
This case was litigated for over a year and ultimately settled following depositions of medical experts for both sides.