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Clinical Negligence

Elderly patient suffers hip fracture as a result of hospital fall

Mrs F was 86 years old when she was admitted to the Livingstone Hospital in Dartford for rehabilitation, following right hip replacement surgery.  During her stay, Mrs F required assistance with mobilising and going to the toilet.  A nurse was required to assist her with standing from sitting on the bed, and Mrs F then required a rollator frame with four wheels to mobilise, which she pushed along in front of her.  She then required a nurse to help her to sit on the toilet safely and further assistance to return to a standing position, in order to transfer back to bed.

However, on one occasion she was left alone in the toilet without any further assistance.  No call bell was placed within her reach.  Mrs F was left with the rollator frame in front of her but she was unable to stand without assistance.  Mrs F waited approximately 40 minutes, however the nurse did not return.  She called for help but received no response.

Mrs F attempted to get up herself and fell, sustaining a peri-prosthetic fracture of her right femur (hip).  She was readmitted to Darent Valley Hospital and underwent revision surgery to her hip replacement.  She was then discharged to Gravesham Place for continued rehabilitation.

Mrs F required prolonged rehabilitation and suffered with urinary tract infections and deep vein thrombosis as a result of the fall.

Jenny Waight, specialist clinical negligence lawyer, was instructed to act on behalf of Mrs F.  Jenny obtained medical evidence regarding Mrs F’s physical injuries, but also evidence which showed that Mrs F had suffered a psychiatric injury as a result of the incident, which rendered her reluctant to leave the house.

Prior to the surgery, Mrs F was independent and enjoyed a good social life.  However, following discharge from hospital, she required care as a result of the fracture as although the fracture had healed this continued to cause Mrs F pain and difficulties with mobility.  Mrs F’s family offered significant amounts of care and she also had private carers.

Following the fall Mrs F’s family made a complaint to the hospital.  The hospital duly investigated and concluded that the incident was caused the fact there was no permanent call bell in the toilet and a mobile call bell was not given to Mrs F.

Jenny Waight requested that the NHS offer an early admission of liability on the basis of the findings of the investigation.  However this was not forthcoming which led to a protracted case.  The NHS trust eventually admitted liability some 18 months later.

The defendant denied that Mrs F’s need for care was due to the fall and hip fracture, saying the decline in mobility was due to Mrs F’s age.  The claim settled after the issue of court proceedings for £60,000.

Jennifer Waight specialises in orthopaedic cases.  If you would like to ask Jennifer a question about a potential case, or if you have a general query about any clinical negligence, contact Jennifer at Thomson Snell & Passmore solicitors on 01892 701374 in confidence.

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