Elderly Patient’s Avoidable Fall on Hospital Ward Results in Compensation Settlement

Mr R was 90 years old and suffering from moderate dementia, but managing well in his own home with the assistance of carers and family members.

He suffered a fall at home and was admitted to hospital in a fairly disorientated state. A Falls Risk Assessment was only partially completed on admission and Mr R was assessed as being at low risk of falls.

Despite his condition and confused state, Mr R was placed in a bed at the end of the ward where he was not visible by the nurses at the desk. A few days later, Mr R suffered an unwitnessed fall on the ward and sustained a cut to the back of his head and surrounding bruising.

Mr R deteriorated and his family became concerned that he may have suffered a stroke. They reported their concerns and a CT of the head was carried out and reported as normal. However, three days later the imaging was reviewed and it was concluded that there was indeed evidence of a stroke.

Mr R was not able to return to his own home and instead was transferred to a care home. His recovery was complicated and he later developed a chest infection and passed away.

The family brought a clinical negligence claim on the basis that the hospital failed to carry out a full falls risk assessment as they should have, which resulted in Mr R suffering an avoidable fall; and also on the basis of the delay in diagnosing that Mr R had suffered a stroke. It was not claimed that the avoidable fall had caused the stroke.

The defendant Hospital Trust acknowledged that the Falls Risk Assessment was not properly completed and that Mr R should have been assessed as being at high risk of falls. The Trust denied liability but made an offer to settle the claim, which the family accepted.

The family were represented by Danielle Young.

If you would like more information or advice on pursuing a claim for compensation, please contact a member of our Clinical Negligence team.