When you visit a healthcare facility or Emergency Department for medical care, the last thing you expect is to come away from the experience worse than you went in. Unfortunately, falls in the hospital are common and often result in serious or even fatal injury.
Across the US, between 700,000 and one million patients fall during hospital stays each year. The Joint Commission, a non-profit organization that accredits healthcare facilities and service providers, reports approximately 30 to 50 percent of patients who fall suffer injury as a result. Of the falls that resulted in serious injury between 2009 and 2015 that were reported, 63 percent were fatal.
Hospitals serve people of all ages and physical conditions. It is important that protocols, practices, and facilities are designed to ensure the safety of those who are physically injured, ill, and unsteady on their feet.
As medical malpractice attorneys, we understand the importance of avoiding falls. Inside or outside of the hospital, injuries from falling can be minor or severe, including:
- Bruising and minor aches and pains
- Sprains, strains, and muscle pulls or soft tissue tears
- Broken bones and dislocation
- Injury to the spinal cord or spinal column (SCI)
- Facial and head injuries including concussion, intracranial bleeding, and other forms of traumatic brain injury (TBI)
While the Joint Commission and other agencies provide resources to hospitals to develop fall prevention programs, it is important that you and your family understand some tips to ensure your own safety during a hospital stay. Here are five tips to avoid falls in a hospital:
- Ask for help: Being in a hospital setting is unfamiliar and unsettling. Ask for help before navigating around your room, even to the bathroom. If no one is present, press the call button and wait for help.
- Use caution: Be careful not to use bedside equipment, tables, or IV poles to help steady yourself. Most of these devices are built to be mobile, or are actually on wheels and could give you a false sense of security if you lean on them to move about.
- Take stock before moving: During a hospital stay, you may have experienced surgery or been treated with medication that makes you dizzy, lightheaded, or weak. Take time to sit up, and then to stand up. Think about how your body feels, move slowly, and be extra careful. If you have any condition that predisposes you to a fall, such as poor balance or vision problems, be sure to tell your nurses and doctor.
- Dress the part: Be sure you have non-slip slippers or booties before walking anywhere. Wearing just socks could increase your risk of a fall.
- Keep needed personal items close by: Ask nurses or family members to place often used personal items on your bedside stand.
The hospital has a responsibility to maintain your safety on the premises. This means rooms and facilities should be free of obstacles and trip hazards. Sufficient lighting, level, non-slip flooring, and handrails and grab bars should be available in areas of patient care. Personnel should be readily available to help you move about your room or around the hospital in safety.
If you suffer further injury in a hospital where you went for safety and care, talk to a qualified attorney about your legal options for compensation.
Experienced Attorneys in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Fight for Your Right to Compensation After Injury
Our medical malpractice attorneys at Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. are recognized for the dedication and high quality legal care we provide to our clients. When you suffer injury due to medical wrongdoing, talk to our law firm about your options for obtaining compensation. Contact us or call 410-234-1000 to schedule a free consultation concerning your case.