Avoidable fall in hospital results in death of 81 year old man

B was admitted to hospital with suspected infection.  He had poor mobility following a stroke and only ever walked with a 3 wheeled walker.  He was known to be at high risk of falls, his GP having only referred him to the falls team for assessment earlier that day.  It was also documented that he was confused and forgetful.  Despite all this, he was not provided with any walking aid (his wife had not taken his usual frame into hospital when he was taken in by ambulance as she had previously been told not to as the hospital would provide any equipment needed).

The following day, B was taken to the toilet by a nurse and then left alone.  He attempted to walk back to his bed unaided, fell and fractured his hip which necessitated surgery.  Unfortunately, following this he developed pneumonia and he sadly died 7 days after the fall.

The hospital admitted they breached their duty of care to him by failing to provide him with a walking frame but denied this would have prevented his fall.  They did however accept he would not have died but for the fall.  Whilst we thought this case should have been resolved much earlier, disappointingly, the Defendant stood by their denial of liability and it was necessary to issue Court proceedings and settlement was achieved only a few months before trial.

At the outset, this case looked very straight forward and one we expected to conclude swiftly. However, as a result of the Defendant’s position, we had to pursue this claim through the Court system, relying upon the independent evidence of our nursing expert.  This case goes to show that all clinical negligence cases need to be handled by a specialist solicitor as it is impossible to predict how Defendants will deal with such claims.

If you suspect you or a member of your family has been injured by negligent medical treatment and would like some advice on pursuing a claim for compensation, please telephone us on 01642 231110 to speak to one of our specialist and highly qualified clinical negligence solicitors.

Kathryn Watson – February 2022