Patient falls are considered “never events.” They should never happen. In fact, if a patient falls, Medicare will not reimburse the hospital for the care provided. Nevertheless, according to the Joint Commission, every year in the United States, hundreds of thousands of people fall in the hospital, with many of these falls resulting in injury and prolonged hospital stays. Some common factors that contribute to patient falls include inadequate assessment, communication failures, lack of adherence to protocols and inadequate training. Falls are usually the result of nursing negligence.
If you or a loved one has suffered a fall in a hospital, it likely was the result of medical malpractice or negligence. Contact our medical malpractice attorneys to see if you have a malpractice case.
Who Is Likely To Fall in the Hospital?
A fall in the hospital can happen to any patient, not just the frail or elderly. Medication, recent surgery, injury, or illness can make even the healthiest patient confused, dizzy or unsteady on their feet, putting them at significant risk for falls.
Can Falls Be Prevented?
One of the reasons falls in hospitals are almost always the result of medical malpractice or negligence is because they are foreseeable and preventable. To prevent falls, nurses need to accurately assess fall risk, put a reasonable plan in place to minimize the risk of falling, and follow that plan.
Simply checking on the patient every hour can be the difference between an unsteady patient with a full bladder climbing out of bed on her own, or with the assistance of a nurse’s aide. In addition to hourly rounding, implementation and utilization of fall prevention protocol is essential. Here are some other ways in which hospital falls can be prevented:
- Implement universal fall precautions. These are precautions for all patients, all the time, and include familiarizing the patient with the environment, showing the patient how to use the call light, and placing the patient’s items within easy reach.
- Assess the individual patient’s fall risk factors. Some factors include fall history, mobility, medications and mental status. It is important that these factors are reassessed if there is an event such as change in the patient’s mental status or medications.
- Create an action plan to address the patient’s needs. The action plan is based upon the risk assessment. For example, implementing a sitter for patients with altered mental status, using assistive devices like a wheelchair or walker for patients with gait problems, taking patients to the toilet frequently, and placing a patient’s eye glasses within easy reach of their bed.
- Educate. The patient and his or her family should understand the need for fall prevention protocol as well as the ways the patient can help prevent falls.
- Document. The patient’s risk factors and interventions should be documented in the medical record and communicated at shift change.
For more information, visit the Agency for Healthcare and Resource Quality’s website at: https://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/systems/hospital/fallpxtoolkit/fallpxtk3.html
I Want Hoffer & Sheremet’s Malpractice Lawyers To Review My Fall Case
If you, or a loved one, fell during a hospital stay and suffered a serious injury as a result, the hospital or its nurses may have been negligent in preventing the fall and a medical malpractice claim may be appropriate. To learn more, contact our medical malpractice lawyers for a free case review: 1.616.278.0888, firstname.lastname@example.org.