Advising with empathy and experience

Compensation follows hospital fall death.

Helen Caulfield from the CNCI team has recently completed successful negotiations in a claim brought on behalf of the family of a man who died following a fall in hospital.

The deceased had been admitted to hospital for treatment for a chest infection.  He was in poor health at the time of the admission and the hospital were aware that he was at risk of falling, could become easily confused and disorientated.  Initial treatment did assist in elevating the gentleman’s chest symptoms and plans were put in place to arrange for him to be transferred to a nursing home.

Three weeks after admission and before transfer could take place, the individual suffered a fall.  The circumstances of that fall were unclear, but it was apparent that the individual had been left unattended.  At that stage he was due to receive one-to-one supervision.

The gentleman sustained a fracture in the fall.  He underwent surgery under general anaesthetic but sadly his condition deteriorated and he passed away 2 weeks after the fall.

Having been instructed by the family, expert evidence was obtained which confirmed that it was likely that the individual would not have fallen if the duty of care had not been breached.  A letter of claim was submitted to both the hospital and a local care company who had a contract with the hospital.

The two potential defendants indicated that the other party was responsible and that proceedings should be served against the other party.

Proceedings were received against the Hospital Trust alone.

The Defendants indicated an intention to only partly defend the claim brought against them.  In the circumstances, an offer was put forward on behalf of the claimant in an effort to settle the claim.  The defendants made a counter offer which the deceased’s family accepted in full and final settlement of the claim.

Speaking of the settlement, Helen Caufield of the CNCI team said… “In this case the family were acting on behalf of an elderly gentleman who had been in poor health.  It was precisely this factor that should have resulted in him receiving specialist one-to-one care at the hospital.  Satisfactory arrangements had been in place for the early part of his admission but on this occasion, left unattended, the gentleman fell.  Tragically he never recovered from his injuries.  In a younger or fitter person the injuries may not have been so serious.  It is frustrating that the two organisations engaged in arranging care sought to blame each other for the sequence of events.  We are pleased that by commencing court proceedings, we were able to resolve issues of responsibility and reach a successful conclusion to the claim.