This case takes place in Alabama and involves an older patient who died as a result of a fall suffered while in the hospital. The patient had a past medical history of irritable bowel syndrome and was admitted to the ER with a staph infection, along with several additional medical problems. The patient was admitted to the hospital, where she was successfully treated for her initial complaint. She responded well to treatment, and as a result was to be discharged from the hospital after an observation period. Before the patient was discharged, however, the attending physician found the patient on the floor, where she was bleeding profusely. The patient died as a result of her injuries.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Do you have experience in assessing fall risk?
- 2. What measures should have been taken to prevent this patient from falling?
Expert Witness Response E-000212
I have previously reviewed and testified on fall cases which were similar in nature to the one presented to me here. There are several factors that need to be considered, including whether the hospital had an established fall protocol and how they assess a patient’s condition. Clearly, they misevaluated this patient or failed to have an adequate policy in place. I am unable to make an initial assessment without knowing more about the plaintiff’s condition and presentation but would be glad to discuss the case further with the attorney and review this matter on behalf of the plaintiff.
Expert Witness Response E-001013
I have experience with assessing fall risks. The measures that should have been taken include consideration of ability to ambulate without assistance. If not able to ambulate, measure include a side rail, call bell/light within reach distance for patient, frequent checks on patient in room, sign on door stating potential for fall (e.g. CAPS-continuous awareness of patient safety) and notification to physician, supervisors and staff on unit.