Mr J was admitted to the A & E department of Weston General Hospital, Weston Super Mare in 2016 following a fall at home. He was suffering confusion, potentially increased as a consequence of a urinary tract infection.
Nursing staff conducting a falls risk assessment, which confirmed a history of falls, poor balance, a previous injury and a degree of visual impairment. The assessment put Mr J at high risk of falling, needing one to one nursing with a sister or matron. As he was at risk of falling whilst in hospital, he required bed rails and was provided with a call bell. A subsequent physiotherapy assessment confirmed that Mr J was at risk of falling and needed the assistance of two people to mobilise.
During physiotherapy some days later, Mr J reported that he did not feel well and was slightly lightheaded. Later the same day, Mr J fell onto his right side whilst standing to clean his teeth. No one saw him fall as he was in a non-visible bed in a side room, so he was moved to a visible bed.
Following the fall, Mr J was unable to weight bear and complained of tenderness in his right hip. An x-ray showed that he had sustained a fracture to his right hip, and he underwent a hemiarthroplasty (replacement of half of the hip joint). Unfortunately, during the operation to carry out the replacement, Mr J developed aspiration pneumonia and he died a few days later.
His relatives were very upset by Mr J’s death and felt that the treatment he had received had been negligent. Mr J’s widow contacted Graysons to see if they were able to claim compensation from the hospital.
Matthew contacted the hospital, saying that the defendant trust was negligent in respect of the nursing staff as they had failed to:
- undertake and act upon an appropriate falls risk assessment and care plan in line with the guidance given by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) code
- ensure that Mr J’s needs were accurately assessed, and care plans devised in a timely manner
- record any such falls assessments and interventions
Matthew also alleged that, had there not been a failure to properly assess Mr J, he would not have fallen and broken his hip. The trust admitted that there had been a failure to consider Mr J’s postural hypotension (low blood pressure that happens when you stand up from sitting or lying down) and that a patient at a high risk of falls should not have been placed in a side room. The trust also admitted Mr J’s broken hip resulted from the fall and that, during the surgical procedure to resolve the fractured hip Mr J developed aspiration pneumonia, which subsequently reduced his life span.
The hospital eventually agreed to settle the matter and Matthew was able to negotiate a settlement of £50,000 on behalf of Mr J’s dependants, which included the statutory bereavement award, funeral expenses, loss of dependency and compensation in respect of the pain and suffering that Mr J had suffered.
If you think that you, or a relative, have suffered due to negligent treatment by a health professional, contact our experts now. We can discuss your case free of charge and advise whether we can take the case on. If we are, we will offer you a no win, no fee arrangement. You can also find out more about making a medical negligence claim for compensation on our website.
Author: Matthew Lindsay, medical negligence solicitor.