This case involves a middle-aged man who suffered a serious brain injury while staying in a hotel. On the date of the incident in question, the man checked in to the hotel in the morning, and planned to stay in the room by himself for several days while attending an industry convention. The man’s wife spoke with him that morning, and during the course of their conversation he mentioned that he would call her again at the end of the day to check in. The man’s wife did not hear from him for several hours after the agreed upon time of their call when she contacted the front desk of the hotel and requested that a member of the hotel’s staff go up and check on her husband. A staff member then reportedly went up to the man’s room and opened the door. The room was dark and the staff member called out for the man several times without receiving a response before closing the door again and leaving. The next day, one of the man’s coworkers went to his room after he failed to meet him at the conference. The man was found unconscious in the bathroom, having evidently fallen in the shower and suffering a serious head injury. As a result of the accident, the man continues to suffer from reduced cognition as well as a number of other neurological symptoms.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. What are the guidelines hotel management must follow in cases of an unresponsive hotel guest?
- 2. Are there general standards on dealing with complaints or concerns regarding guests staying at hotels such as this?
Expert Witness Response E-107523
As a general manager of a hotel for over 20 years my experiences have included being involved in matters not unlike the one described in this summary. While it is difficult to identify a caller as being a family member, it is reasonable for a hotel operator to respond to a concerned caller with some level of activity to address the concern stated, in this case an inability for a wife to communicate with her spouse, even if it becomes an inconvenience to the registered guest. General standards may vary by company, but from a guest safety and security perspective the hotel should be expected to take reasonable care to insure the well being of the guest. As an operator I have been involved in a similar situation where a guest was not responding to calls and his colleagues were concerned for his well being.
Expert Witness Response E-016240
Professionally run hotels have written procedures that address the responsibilities of staff in medical emergency situations prior to arrival of EMS. Such responsibilities vary depending upon the nature of the situation, but could involve CPR and the use of automated external defibrillators. I think this question presumes the extent to which the hotel should have more actively pursued the “missing guest” in the dark room. Depending upon the specifics of the phone call by the wife, my first thoughts are that the hotel staff person who entered or peered into the dark room at some point should have turned on the lights and surveyed the entire room.