This case reveals how nursing care in one area of a hospital can be appropriate, but a simple transfer to another unit can result in protocols, policies, and procedures being violated and leading to injuries. In this case, our confused elderly client had been living with her son and was suffering falls at home, so her family brought her to the hospital to see if the reason for the falls could be indentified and treated. She was admitted to the neurological floor and evaluated for her fall risk, which was high. Consequently, the neuro floor nurses implemented fall protection measures to prevent her from falling.
Within a few days, she was transferred to another unit on the same hospital, but inexplicably, the nurses did not continue the same fall protection measures, and for several nights our client’s bedrails were not placed in the upright position. She was not capable of understanding the danger of getting out of bed without help, and the nurses’ failure to raise the bedrails allowed her to get out of bed in the middle of the night and try to get to the bathroom unattended. Not surprisingly, she fell on her way to the bathroom and suffered serious injuries, including a shoulder fracture.
This case was indefensible for the hospital. Our experience in medical malpractice and hospital cases showed us that the failures of the nursing staff could not be explained, so we requested a settlement conference with the hospital’s representatives and were able to resolve the case without litigation. In this particular case, the hospital’s liability was so clear, an early, reasonable resolution was possible. This is highly unusual, and we are proud to have helped our wonderful clients achieve this extraordinary result.