The Penningtons Manches LLP’s clinical negligence team has settled a claim against The Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust for a young woman who suffered a fall while she was an in-patient following the birth of her daughter. Several hours after giving birth and, having suffered serious post-partem bleeding, our client fell while visiting the lavatory unassisted, despite having complained to nursing staff of feeling lightheaded.
She had begun to feel increasingly nauseous and dizzy while seated on the lavatory but there was no emergency cord in the bathroom for her to summons assistance from a seated position. Our client therefore stood up to get to the door several feet away from the lavatory to call for help but she fainted and fell to the floor, losing consciousness and suffering significant injuries to her face and teeth. When she awoke, she became aware that she had lost teeth and was bleeding from her face and mouth. She was able to crawl to the door and verbally summons assistance. Our client required significant dental treatment for her injuries.
Initially the claim was disputed by the trust, represented by the NHS Litigation Authority, on the basis that the fall was unavoidable. Legal proceedings were brought, alleging that the trust was negligent for failing to ensure that there was a functioning emergency call bell/cord in the lavatory; leaving her unattended in light of her clinical condition; and failing to take sufficient care of her safety. The trust subsequently made an offer to settle which our client accepted.
Lucie Prothero, who specialises in hospital falls cases within the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, comments: “We are dealing with a wide range of clinical negligence cases relating to avoidable falls both in the hospital setting and in community-based care and nursing homes. While the patients involved are often elderly, they are not exclusively so, as demonstrated by this case. We see instances where failures to provide a safe environment for patients, such as ensuring the presence of call bells and responding appropriately to them, can result in wholly avoidable falls which can have painful consequences for patients. Often, quite simple safeguards are all it takes to prevent these falls from happening.”