Compensation for husband of elderly woman who died after a fall in hospital while unattended

Case Studies

Compensation for husband of elderly woman who died after a fall in hospital while unattended

Our clinical negligence team has settled a claim against Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust for a client whose wife died following a fall in hospital.

His wife was in her eighties and suffered from vascular dementia. She lived at home with him and although she required some supervision, she did not need walking aids.

In 2014 she was admitted to hospital with general weakness, increased confusion and a possible urinary tract infection. On admission, she was assessed as being dehydrated with postural hypotension and spiking temperatures. Given her instability, a falls care plan was initiated. The situation deteriorated to the point where her falls risk was deemed to be so high that she required a one-to-one healthcare assistant to monitor her, called “specialling”.

Despite needing such close assistance, she was left unattended by the healthcare assistant and during that time, she fell and fractured her right femur. She required a cemented hemi-arthroplasty procedure to repair the fracture.

Following surgery, she suffered from post-operative delirium and had episodes of hypoglycaemia, acute kidney injury and infection. She also developed an ileus, which was likely to be related to her metabolic derangement. She later contracted pneumonia and died.

We obtained expert evidence which confirmed that she received an unacceptable level of care which led to an avoidable fall. An expert geriatrician addressed the consequences of the fall, comparing what happened to the path her medical condition might have taken if it had not occurred.

A letter of claim was submitted to the trust and the claim was settled after Part 36 negotiations with the NHS Litigation Authority.

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP