A patient may be at risk of falling due to their age or medical condition and hospitals have a duty to carry out a risk assessment for any vulnerable patients that are admitted into their care.

A failure to undertake a falls risk assessment may give rise to a claim if the vulnerable patient goes on to experience a fall. A claim could also be made if a fall could have been avoided if necessary provisions identified by a risk assessment had been implemented.

For example, an adequate risk assessment could result in a patient receiving closer nursing attention, or ensuring that the patients’ ‘cot sides’ are up on their bed to prevent the patient rolling out of bed.

A moving and handling risk assessment should also be carried out where a vulnerable patient is required to be moved or transferred from one location to another. Failure to carry out a risk assessment appropriately can result in an injury being sustained and a claim may be brought on this basis.

Hospitals should also ensure that nurses respond to patients’ call bells in a timely manner. If call bells are not responded to promptly, it is foreseeable that the patient requesting assistance will try to get out of bed themselves, usually to go to the toilet. This can result in a fall where the patient requires assistance to get in and out of bed.

Nurses also carry out procedures such as taking swabs, applying bandages, changing dressings and taking blood. An additional injury resulting from performing these tasks in an unsafe or unhygienic manner could also give rise to a clinical negligence claim.

If you believe your relative or loved one has received unsatisfactory care or you would like to pursue a claim, please contact a member of Geldards specialist team for an initial consultation free of charge.


RELEVANT CASES

CLAIMANT V HAMPSHIRE HOSPITAL FOUNDATION TRUST

The Deceased was elderly and frail with mobility problems.

She was transferring onto a commode with the aid of a healthcare assistant but suffered a controlled fall resulting in minor abrasions. Risk assessments then indicated the need for assisted mobilisation. This was not complied with, and the Deceased fell again fracturing her fibula and tibia. The patient died of unrelated causes. (The claim was settled on behalf of the Administratrix of the Estate).

Out of court settlement. Damages £6,000.


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