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Negligence – Have you fallen out of a hospital bed?

If you have fallen out of a hospital bed you may be entitled to compensation.

Following surgery under general anaesthetic, it is quite usual for the sedative effects of anaesthesia or strong painkillers to remain in the patient’s system, and for further sedative/pain relief to be administered whilst recuperating post-surgery. Patients can have high temperatures, fever, suffer with delirium and hallucinations, feel groggy, ‘fuzzy’ or ‘out of it’, and can be disorientated. At this point they are more vulnerable to falling out of their hospital bed.

NHS policy is that risk assessments should be carried out as to the use of bedrails.

It is incumbent upon hospital staff to adhere to and comply with any hospital bedrails policy – as far too often we hear of patients falling out of bed and sustaining injuries, which could create a new medical problem, exacerbate an existing problem, or add complications and prolong their post-operative recovery.

We know from constant messages in the news that most NHS hospitals are often under- resourced, with far too few staff on call, rushing around to look after far too many patients.

Evening and weekend admissions (particularly Sundays) are notoriously the worst time to be in hospital – with the most accidents, incidents of medical negligence occurring, and lowest survival rates for serious medical emergencies or acute illness.

Unfortunately, due to neglect, bedrails may not put up in the first instance to protect patients from falling out of bed; or if lowered for any reason eg to get the patient out of bed for toileting or to change the bed sheets, the staff forget to put them back up again afterwards.

If a patient turns and rolls out of bed, the injuries can be quite serious, particularly for elderly or frail patients, or those recovering from major surgery. Commonly, fractures can occur to the hips and arms and patients can suffer extensive bruising. They rely on the hospital staff to look after them, assess risk and ensure their safety – yet incredibly, the NHS statistics have previously shown that 1 in 200 people fall out of bed! The situation is totally avoidable and should never happen in a hospital environment.

So much so, that the NHS have provided a “Never Events List” – which relates to “serious, largely preventable patient safety incidents that should not occur if the available preventable methods have been implemented by healthcare providers”.

Case study 1 – £14,000.00

Post-surgery, Joan (not her real name to protect her privacy) was taken by ambulance to A & E. She was then transferred and admitted to the Acute Medical Unit, and from there put into a private side room at the hospital. The next morning she was found on the floor, having fallen out of bed, and was diagnosed with fractures to left femur and her left radius.

Prior to her fall, upon observation, she had a high temperature, was delirious and suffered with confusion.  She was not able to fully communicate her needs.  Given her state of delirium and poor cognition, we argued that it would have been appropriate to have left the railings at the side of the bed upright to manage her safety.  Had that been the case, she would not have fallen out of bed and her injuries would have been entirely avoidable. Joan received £14,000 compensation.

Case Study 2 – £1,500.00

Mrs X, an elderly lady in her early 80’s, underwent surgery under general anaesthetic early one afternoon. She was taken to and returned from theatre in a hospital bed with both sides of the bed raised. During the evening a nurse came to change her sheets.  She was groggy from her operation and was unable to mobilise independently.  She needed help getting out of bed, and was moved to a chair whilst the sheets were changed.  The nurse lowered the left hand side of the bed and helped our client back into bed.  However, the side bedrails were not raised again once she was back in bed. A sleeping pill was administered and our client eventually fell to sleep after taking the tablet.  In the middle of the night, drowsy from the general anaesthetic and sleeping tablet, she rolled over and fell out of bed, crashing onto the hard wooden floor – sustaining bruising and a cut to her left elbow which was bleeding, bruising to her wrist and her hip.

Contrary to the NHS bedrails policy in place at the time, no risk assessment was actually carried out by the hospital as to the potential for Mrs X to fall out of bed and sustain injury whilst recuperating.  The additional sedative effect of the sleeping pill may have also pointed to the need to raise the bedrails to prevent her from rolling out.  We argued that had the bedrails been raised, she would not have fallen out of bed – and as such, her injuries were entirely preventable. Mrs X received £1,500 by way of commercial compromise.

Why choose Farley Dwek Solicitors

We provide legal expertise and litigation services in this complicated area, and will fight with you to seek compensation from the NHS for avoidable mistakes made, which can be life-threatening.

If you have suffered injury as a result of falling out of a hospital bed, please contact our expert legal team for advice on  0800 011 4136 or 0161 272 5222 or email: enquiries@farleydwek.com.

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