Claim for a Hospital Fall Injury Heard in Court

A woman, who fractured her spine after falling out of bed, has successfully made a claim for a hospital fall injury at a hearing of the Circuit Civil Court.

The woman – who lives in Finglas, Dublin – made her claim for a hospital fall injury following her accident at the Mater Hospital in April 2015. The woman had attended the hospital as a day patient for a routine gastroscopy procedure. However, as she was recovering from the procedure, she attempted to get out of bed and fell – suffering a fractured spine.

Her injury resulted in an extended stay at the Mater Hospital before being transferred to the Incorporated Orthopaedic Hospital in Clontarf for specialised treatment. She remained in Clontarf Hospital for three months before being removed by her daughter who was concerned about her wellbeing.

After seeking legal advice, the woman made a claim for a hospital fall injury against the Mater Hospital; alleging she had been left alone to recover after the procedure, which – as she had previously been hospitalised following a fall at her home – was in contravention of the hospital´s own falls prevention policy.

Her claim went to the Circuit Civil Court, where it was heard by Judge James O´Donohoe. At the hearing, the judge was told the accident had a serious effect on the plaintiff´s quality of life. Rather than cope with most things by herself, as she had done prior to her accident, the woman now had to wear a lumbar brace and walks with the assistance of a Zimmer frame.

An expert witness on behalf of the plaintiff testified the hospital had failed in its duty of care to the plaintiff by failing to adhere to its falls prevention policy and a representative of the hospital explained how the accident happened. However, the hospital´s representative could not tell Judge O´Donohoe why the nurse who first attended the plaintiff after her fall had not been called to give evidence.

Commenting that the nurse´s absence “speaks volumes” the judge found in the plaintiff´s favour and awarded her €58,500 compensation in settlement of her claim for a hospital fall injury. The judge granted a request to place a stay on the award pending a possible appeal, but ordered that €30,000 of the compensation settlement was paid immediately.