£18,000 recovered for avoidable falls during hospital admission

Mr H, an 81 year old gentleman at the time of the negligence, was admitted to Darent Valley Hospital in January 2009, following a fall at home, as a result of which he suffered a fracture of the arm.

On admission, he was noted to be suffering from chronic dementia and appeared very confused.

As a result of his confusion he attempted to climb out of bed and he was not eating properly.

Despite staff being aware of this, they failed to:

  • carry out relevant risk assessments;
  • reduce his risk of falling by implementing measures such as low rise beds, crash mats, etc. – in fact, they put up cot sides/bed rails (which was contra-indicated given he was known to be trying to climb out of bed and actually led to a higher risk of falling from a greater height);
  • put in place an ‘at risk’ nurse; and
  • carry out malnutrition screening and, despite advice from a dietician, failed to properly monitor his weight and complete a food chart.

As a result, Mr H suffered cachexia (significant weight loss) and had three falls, sustaining cuts and grazes to his face, arm and hand, a subdural haematoma (which was treated conservatively) and a fractured hip, for which he required surgery.

Sadly, Mr H passed away just over a year following discharge from hospital, which was not related to the negligence.

We were instructed by Mr H’s son and obtained supportive nursing expert evidence.

Negotiations took place and the claim was settled for £18,000.

Shantala Heath, Specialist Medical Negligence Solicitor, with conduct of the case, commented:

“The care received by Mr H was appalling, especially in relation to the significant weight loss and implementing cot sides when this clearly increased the risk of Mr H falling further. Patients, particularly the elderly, should be properly and regularly risk assessed whilst in hospital and measures should be put in place to ensure they are as safe as possible in order to avoid unnecessary injuries such as those which Mr H suffered.”

Mr H’s son from Kent commented:

“I would like to thank Shantala Heath and her team at Fairweathers Solicitors, I had tried several other firms without any offers to take up this case. Fairweathers were suggested as a firm that may be able to help. After looking into the details I had a very informative meeting with Shantala who talked me through the entire process so I was in no doubt as to all possible outcomes. Even though this was an emotional subject I was helped and advised very professionally from start to finish with regular updates even when nothing significant was happening. I would not hesitate to recommend anyone talking to Fairweathers to see if they can help as they have with us.”