When an inpatient – a person receiving medical care in a hospital – has a slip and fall accident the hospital may be liable for injuries. Medical facilities and health care professionals owe a “duty of care” to their patients and part of that duty is ensuring that their patients do not suffer further injury while they are being treated or recovering from medical treatment performed in the hospital. Slip and fall accidents can cause serious injuries; particularly for the elderly.
Common causes of inpatient slip and fall accidents
Patients who have undergone surgery or other medical treatments that involve heavy pain medications and sedatives are at increased risk for serious slip and fall injuries. A study completed by the National Council on Aging found that 30 percent of patient falls in a hospital or acute care setting result in serious injury. Some of the most common causes of inpatient slip and fall accidents include falling from a bed or chair and slipping on a slippery floor.
How can hospitals and medical staff help prevent slip and fall accidents?
It is vitally important that hospitals create and train their staff on fall prevention protocols and that nurses and other medical staff follow these protocols to protect their patients from preventable slip and fall accidents.
Many hospitals use new products meant to help reduce the risk of patient falls. Products include beds and chairs that are more difficult for a patient to get out of on their own, electronic monitoring devices in socks and patient restraints. Some of these solutions create other problems, making other solutions such as placing patients most at risk for slip and fall accidents close to nurse stations for easier monitoring more desirable.
Failure to follow fall prevention protocols increase risk of inpatient falls
When a hospital fails to establish and enforce fall prevention protocols patients are left vulnerable and the hospital could be liable for damages associated with the patient’s slip and fall injury.
Common failures of fall protection:
- Patients left unattended while being transferred between hospital units
- Poor communication between hospital units or medical staff members
- Patients left unattended in hallways while medicated or injured
- Patients left unattended in treatment rooms
- Environmental risk factors like cluttered walkways, inadequate side rails, poor lighting and unmarked wet floors
- Patients who are left delirious from the side effects of multiple medications (polypharmacy)
Inpatient slip and fall lawsuits
When the negligence of a hospital or medical staff is the direct cause of a serious inpatient slip and fall injury, a slip and fall claim may be an option to recover damages for the plaintiff. Inpatient slip and fall suits are a type of personal injury claim which may or may not qualify as medical malpractice. Consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer is the best way to determine if you have a case to recover damages.
If you or a loved one is dealing with an accident or injury through no fault of your own, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!