Three Common Causes of Hospital Patient Falls

Three Common Causes of Hospital Patient Falls
Dec 14, 2016

A recent study suggests that every year, hundreds of thousands of patients fall in hospitals and 30-50% are injured as a result. At Warshauer Woodward Atkins, we receive many calls from family members with a loved one in the hospital who has suffered such a fall and want to know if they have a legal recourse to follow from their resulting injuries. Sometimes, these falls can be fatal.

In our experience, the following are common causes for these incidents:

Inadequate assessments:

Anytime a patient is admitted to a hospital, an initial assessment should be performed to determine the patient’s needs. Part of that assessment should be to determine whether the patient is a fall risk. Most facilities have a checklist they can use to assign points to certain fall risks. Depending on how the patient scores, they can take certain steps to prevent the patient’s fall. Sometimes these assessments are done negligently or not at all!

Poorly trained or inadequate staffing:

Sometimes, the healthcare provider tasked with the initial assessment is not properly trained on how to assess fall risks. We’ve seen situations where the staffing of a facility is not adequate for the number of patients. As a result, healthcare providers are rushed through assessments or may not perform them due to other demands.

Failure to follow hospital policies and procedures:

If the initial assessment is done properly and the facility is adequately staffed with trained professionals, patient falls should not occur. Unfortunately, there are still instances where a patient is injured by a fall. This usually happens when the hospital staff fails to follow policies to prevent patient falls. It may be a situation where a call light is not placed within a patient’s reach, bed rails are not raised, or bed alarms are not monitored or working properly. Policies to prevent falls are useless if they are not followed by the staff charged with implementing them.

At Warshauer Woodward Atkins, we’ve handled many patient fall cases and know what to look for to determine if a facility has been negligent. If you or your loved one has been hurt by the negligence of a healthcare facility or its staff, please call the Warshauer Woodward Atkins for a free consultation.