Patient Falls in Hospital

Patient falls in hospital

Hospital Fall Claims

Falls are the most common cause of serious injury in the elderly. There is often a considerable human cost in that the victim can often suffer physical and mental injury, loss of confidence, loss of independence and reduced life expectancy. There can also be a significant harmful effect on their family and carers. 

Although hospitals should be a place of safety for patients, the incidence of falls by hospital inpatients remains at an alarmingly high level. A report by the NHS in 2017 to consider the frequency and cost of falls revealed there were approximately 250,000 falls reported in 2015/16 across the acute, community and mental health hospital settings. The report also revealed that 77% of these reported falls happened to patients over the age of 65.

A lot of falls are unfortunate accidents, but many are incidents that could have been prevented if the hospital had properly considered the risk of falling and provided adequate care. IBB Solicitors have a long experience in representing victims of hospital falls. If you, or a member of your family, have suffered a preventable fall while in hospital, you might be entitled to being a hospital fall claim.

Our team of expert medical negligence solicitors can advise and support you with making a compensation claim. We offer No Win, No Fee representation for our clients, meaning no matter your financial situation, we can help you secure the access to the expert legal advice you need.

How can I get help?

If you have suffered injury from a fall in hospital and would like to know if you may be entitled to  hospital fall compensation, call 0333 123 9099, email enquiries@ibbclaims.co.uk or use the enquiry form to request a call back.

What causes a fall in hospital?

Falls are common and can happen to anyone. However, the physically restricted and the elderly are the most vulnerable. The most common causes of falls in day to day life are:

  • Balance problems and muscle weakness
  • Problems with vision.
  • Health conditions that can compromise balance or cause dizziness. 
  • Hazards or obstacles, such as wet floors or an uneven floor
  • Using stairs

When someone is a patient in hospital, they are, in many ways, more vulnerable due to their illness, the unfamiliar surroundings and the possibility that they are impaired by their medication or treatment.

Examples of reasons why patients might suffer a fall in hospital include   

  • Patients do not call for nurse assistance. This might be because they are confused or disorientated, or wrongly believe they are able to transfer themselves independently.
  • On admission, the patient risk assessment was inadequate and failed to accurately identify the level of risk of a patient suffering a fall.
  • The patient is on medication that increases the risk of falling. Medication should be assessed by medical staff to ensure that patient mobility is not unnecessarily compromised.
  • There is a delayed response by nursing staff to the call bell, or the call bell is out of reach of the patient. This can often lead to patients, particularly those who are incontinent, attempting to get out of bed independently, leading to a fall.
  • Walking aids have not been provided to the patient or their own walking aid is not accessible.
  • The patient suffers from dementia and this increases the risk of falls. A dementia patient should be provided with a special care plan to help their stay in hospital and reduces the risk of falling.
  • A failure to keep the bedside clear of hazards and obstacles that increase the risk of tripping or slipping.

What practical steps can be taken to prevent falls in hospital?

A proper assessment of a patient’s risk of falling will help medical staff identify steps that can be taken to minimise the risk of a falling accident. Such steps include:

  • Providing adjustable low beds
  • Positioning the patient nearer to the nursing station
  • Providing non-slip footwear
  • Providing a bed-exit alarm
  • Providing bed rails.
  • Carry out frequent observations

In addition, it is vitally important that hospitals devise good policies to reduce the risks of falls and, equally importantly, that these policies are always put into practice and kept under review, recognising the multifactorial nature of falls and ensuring that staff receive appropriate training. 

What should hospital staff be considering when carrying out a falls risk assessment?

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has provided hospital staff with a comprehensive guideline on what should be considered when assessing the risk of falling and formulating a care plan. The important considerations are:

  • Is the patient over 65 years? Or are they physically frail?
  • Had they had one or more falls in the last 12 months? If so, the circumstances of the fall history should be obtained. It is importance to distinguish between a simple fall and a collapse.     
  • Are they at risk of falling due to other factors, such as: cognitive impairment; visual impairment; suffering from a condition that affects mobility or balance; suffering from urinary incontinence; have a history of alcohol or drug misuse; suffering from depression.
  • Are they taking medication that can adversely affect balance and mobility?   
  • If a patient is considered to be at risk of falling while in hospital, a walking and balance assessment should be undertaken by an appropriately qualified clinician.

What can I claim for following a fall at hospital?

If you, or a family member, have suffered a preventable fall in hospital, arising from the failure of the medical staff to adequately protect you from falling, you will be entitled to claim compensation for the injuries caused by the fall.

The nature of the injury can range from bruising and grazes to fractures to the hip or spine, and in the most severe cases, severe brain injury and death. The financial losses that have been caused by the injury can also be claimed. They might include the cost of future treatment and rehabilitation on a private basis, housing adaptions and aids, the cost of providing nursing care and assistance, travel costs and, for those in employment, loss of earnings.    

What Do Others Say About Us?

We are accredited by the Law Society for Personal Injury Law reflecting our expertise in this area. IBB Claims’ partner Malcolm Underhill has particular expertise with all types of brain injuries, being accredited as a Brain Injury Specialist by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

Our team is recognised by Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500, the two leading client guides to the legal profession, for our exceptional skill in handling clinical negligence claims.

Legal 500 judges IBB as having a “good” clinical negligence department and “puts the client’s interests at the forefront of every decision.” Simon Pimlott has “a real eye for detail and works incredibly hard to get the best result for each client.”  Simon has also been described by the publication as a “Rising Star”.

Chambers describes Malcolm as being a highly experienced personal injury practitioner with a strong focus on cases that involve brain injury. A client notes: "He is a very personable, sympathetic professional that has helped us as a family….."

A market source praises Malcolm’s "clear and empathetic understanding of the individual client and family situation." One impressed client adds: "Malcolm Underhill has been superb from the outset. He has in-depth knowledge gained from extensive experience, which is certainly advantageous."

Chambers and Partners also record that Simon Pimlott "communicates effectively and swiftly" and "works in a highly professional and client-focused way," according to commentators.

How Do I make a Hospital Fall Compensation Claim?

IBB Claims’ expert hospital negligence solicitors have a strong track record of success in helping victims of clinical negligence to claim the compensation they deserve. We have successfully pursued claims for those who have suffered falls while in hospital. We can support you through the entire claim process, making is as simple and straightforward as possible to achieve a fair outcome and help you get your life back on track.

If you would like to learn whether you may be entitled to hospital fall compensation, call 0333 123 9099, email enquiries@ibbclaims.co.uk or use the enquiry form to request a call back.