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Hospital Negligence May Lead to Serious Fall Injuries for Senior Citizens in Indiana and Nationwide

January 6, 2013 Medical Malpractice

65899_hospital_bed_2 sxchu-thumb-225x300-55710A Virginia jury recently awarded $3.5 million to an 87-year-old woman who was reportedly hurt in 2006 when she fell from a hospital bed following hip surgery. Shirley Burrell allegedly became permanently disabled after falling from her bed while a patient at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News. Burrell purportedly sustained a severe hip fracture and suffered a stroke after the fall.

In her lawsuit, Burrell claimed that hospital staff failed to implement the proper safety measures to protect the allegedly high risk patient from falling. The case claims Burrell should have been moved to a room that was closer to a nurse’s station, soft restraints should have been used on the elderly woman, or member of the hospital’s staff should have been placed in her room to watch her. Nurses treating Burrell also reportedly failed to utilize a bed alarm designed to alert them to patient falls because the electronic system was too sensitive and sometimes provided false positives. In addition, Burrell’s complaint accused the hospital of failing to address a high patient fall rate that has purportedly existed at the facility for many years.

According to Burrell’s attorney, elderly patients are frequently injured in falls at hospitals and skilled nursing facilities throughout the nation. He said the verdict sends a message to healthcare facilities across the country that seniors must be protected and are not disposable. A prepared statement issued by Riverside Regional Medical Center stated the hospital is currently considering whether to appeal the jury’s verdict.

Fall injuries sustained by senior adults are often quite serious. Data from the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states one in three Americans over the age of 65 falls each year. In addition, preventable falls are reportedly the leading cause of severe injury and death for elderly Americans. Falls may cause broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord trauma, and even death. In 2010, approximately 2.3 million senior citizens across the country were treated in a hospital emergency room for an injury sustained in a fall and at least 662,000 were admitted for further treatment. During the previous year, more than 20,000 elderly individuals reportedly died as a result of an injury sustained in a fall.

Unfortunately, the injuries suffered as a result of hospital or healthcare facility neglect can be serious and life-altering. In the State of Indiana, medical professionals must provide all patients with a level of care that meets the accepted standards of practice for their profession. When a physician, nurse, pharmacist, dentist, hospital, long-term care facility, or other medical provider fails to meet that standard of care and a patient is injured, a negligence claim may arise. If you or a loved one was hurt while being treated at healthcare facility in Indiana, you are advised to contact a skilled personal injury attorney to discuss your case.

More Blogs:

Increased Transparency and Accountability Could Reduce Medical Mistakes in Indiana Hospitals, Indiana Medical Malpractice Attorney Blog, November 5, 2012

Missouri Supreme Court Strikes Down Medical Malpractice Damages Cap, Indiana Medical Malpractice Attorney Blog, August 5, 2012

Additional Resources:

Hospital Pays $3.5 Million for ‘Rampant’ Patient Falls, by Sylvia Hsieh,

NN jury makes $3.5 million award to 87-year-old, by Pru Salasky, Daily Press

Photo credit: Bubbels, Stock.xchng

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