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Unmonitored vulnerable woman fell from hospital bed

Mrs Raine lost her independence and had to move into a care home after falling in hospital

Posted on 05 September 2012

The Rotherham NHS Trust Foundation has paid compensation to Mrs Raine following a fall out of a hospital bed. 

Mrs Raine, who was 91 years old and registered blind at the time of her accident, was admitted to Rotherham General Hospital after becoming agitated and confused after contracting an infection.  

Following a transfer between wards, Mrs Raine was left unmonitored in a bed where the side guard rails on the bed had not been raised and locked in place. 

A risk assessment was not correctly undertaken on the ward to assess Mrs Raine’s vulnerability to suffering from a fall, despite the fact that as well as being blind, Mrs Raine was in an agitated and confused state. 

Unfortunately Mrs Raine fell from her bed and suffered a fractured shoulder and minor facial injury.  Had the rails been locked into position the fall could have been prevented. 

As a result of the accident, Mrs Raine’s life was seriously affected.  Before the accident, Mrs Raine was living in her own home with her husband. She was able to walk using a Zimmer frame.  She received assistance from ‘home help’ and was able to have a reasonable quality of life.  After the accident, Mrs Raine was unable to use her Zimmer frame on account of the fracture, and after months of being confined to a chair was not able to mobilise independently again. 

Given her restricted mobility and the deterioration in her health, Mrs Raine was not able to be sufficiently cared for at home and now resides in a care home. Very sadly, Mrs Raine, has been separated from her husband after more than sixty years of marriage. 

Leigh Day & Co brought a claim on behalf of Mrs Raine with the assistance of her son who acted as Mrs Raine’s litigation friend. An admission of liability was made by the Rotherham NHS Trust.  A medical report was obtained from a consultant specialising in elderly medicine and sent to the Defendant Trust. 

Following negotiations a settlement of £25,000 plus legal costs was negotiated on behalf of Mrs Raine.

Zahra Nanji who acted for Mrs Raine commented:

“It is a vital to ensure that patients, particularly those who are elderly, have their safely monitored closely in an unfamiliar hospital environment.  Falls in the elderly inevitably have a far more devastating impact on an individual’s long term recovery and quality of life.   It takes only moments to undertake a simple action such as raising the side rails on a bed. A risk assessment is not onerous; it is a misconception that they always have to be written before being implemented. A visual assessment in a clinical situation can often easily identify that someone is vulnerable and steps such as raising a guard rail is a simple solution.”