Assessing the Harm from a Hospital or Nursing Home Fall
Throughout the years, we’ve handled several cases involving falls in hospitals and in nursing homes. Regardless of whether a fall occurs at a hospital or nursing home, certain steps taken by medical staff after a fall can make a world of difference in identifying and quickly treating an injury caused by a fall.
Unfortunately, we’ve handled cases in which medical staff failed to report a known fall incident, or did not perform a thorough assessment after a patient’s fall to determine if there were any fractures or other injuries, and in another case, the staff did not treat the fracture caused by a fall and the patient suffered in pain for several days before being properly treated.
While the top priority should be to prevent falls, once they occur it is important that the medical staff address the problem promptly and efficiently, as well as document what happened.
First, a medical provider should never try to cover-up the fact that a patient has fallen, regardless of the reason for the fall. After a patient falls, it is important that proper physical assessments of the patient are conducted. That way, signs of swelling, bruising, bleeding, etc. can be observed, documented, and then treated appropriately. Oftentimes, diagnostic tests such as x-rays and MRI scans are helpful to diagnose fall injuries.
Second, after a patient falls, medical staff should meet to discuss what happened and identify possible causes. An incident report might provide a few details of what happened, but it can be helpful for medical staff to meet to go over the findings in the incident report or even re-enact an event to determine what may have happened. That way, staff can learn from any mistakes and try to prevent falls like that from occurring in the future.