Hospital Fall Resulting in Brain Damage: $2.5M Settlement

2015 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Failure of nurse to take fall precautions leads to fall and brain damage

In October of 2008, the plaintiff was at home when he suddenly fell to the floor. He hit his chin, causing a laceration. Some witnesses thought it had been a seizure because of the way he was acting after the fall. An ambulance brought the plaintiff to the emergency room and the EMTs provided a report as to why he was there, the nature of the fall and the question of a seizure.

Plaintiff’s claimed that, given the recent fall in which he had hit his head to the extent that he had a visible wound and the question of a seizure, fall and seizure precautions were necessary to protect the patient from harm. However, the defendant emergency physician did not order any fall or seizure precautions. However, the defendant was prepared to defend her conduct by pointing to the extremely narrow timeline of events, including the recent evaluation by the emergency room team and the instructions to the plaintiff to remain in bed while arrangements were being made, which he said he would do.

The defense claimed that the orders for fall precautions were not put into the record because things happened so soon after the plaintiff’s evaluation. The plaintiff attempted to rebut these claims with reference to medical records that noted that the plaintiff was in the hallway and/or “walking around the ER.” Without fall precautions activated, he was able to do so without any alarms sounding and thus there was no response to get him back safely in bed.

The plaintiff fell in the emergency department and was noted to have characteristic seizure activity. He hit his head in the fall and evaluation soon thereafter found intracranial bleeding. This fall and the bleeding that resulted caused brain damage. And while it was initially felt to be extremely unlikely that he would live, the family insisted upon heroic measures to save him. The plaintiff underwent an extremely long recovery. Miraculously, he was able to walk again, albeit with a limp. However, he could no longer read, write, manage his affairs, drive, cook or remember his closest family members. He could not explain what simple everyday items are used for such as a key or a pen. His family needed a lock on the stove and the door.

Settlement during trial was $2,500,000.00.

Lubin & Meyer attorney Adam R. Satin represented the plaintiff in this lawsuit.

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