Do slip and falls in a hospital constitute medical malpractice or ordinary negligence? This is an important distinction because there are more procedural hurdles involved in medical malpractice cases when compared to ordinary negligence cases. Additionally, the classification can have an impact on the cost of litigation and the strategy needed.
In some states, not all falls in hospitals constitute medical malpractice. In Texas, for example, doctors and hospitals have used the tough medical malpractice requirements to have premises liability cases dismissed on procedural grounds. There must be a “substantial nexus” between the fall and the health care the patient was receiving in order for the plaintiff to be held to the state’s medical malpractice procedural requirements in a hospital fall case.
In New York, patients can receive compensation for hospital falls in cases such as those related to safe transport and ambulation. Hospitals need to have protocols in place to ensure safe transport and ambulation, however, when a staff member fails to follow the protocols, the patient can fall and suffer serious or life-threatening injuries.
When a patient falls in a hospital, they can suffer hip fractures, subdural hematomas, skull fractures, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and other injuries that can be serious and debilitating.
Hospital falls can be caused by:
- Allowing at-risk patients to walk unsupervised
- Improper use of restraints
- Failure to monitor patients
- Failure to use patient protective devices
- Malfunctioning bed rails
- Medication errors, resulting to dizzy or disoriented patients
- Slip-and-fall accidents caused by slippery floors or hazards
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