April 11, 2018
A 72 year old gentleman had recently underwent brain surgery for normal pressure hydrocephalus in Louisville. Shortly thereafter, he was released to a rehabilitation clinic in Leitchfield, Ky. During his rehabilitation, the Plaintiff developed a urinary tract infection (UTI) resulting in increased mental and physical deficits. As a result of the UTI, the Plaintiff was admitted to Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center in Grayson County, Kentucky.
The Hospital’s own policies and procedures required that, upon admission, every patient be assessed to determine if the patient was a fall risk. In this case, Twin Lakes assessed the Plaintiff and correctly determined the Plaintiff to be a HIGH FALL RISK. As a high fall risk, special precautions are supposed to be taken to ensure that the Plaintiff did not injure himself. One of the standard precautions is to stay with a high fall risk patient when the patient is using the commode. Unfortunately, Twin Lakes Hospital did not include this precaution in the hospital’s policies and procedures.
In this case, when the Plaintiff was using a bedside commode, the attending nurse left the Plaintiff alone to as she said “give him his privacy.” While the nurse was out of the hospital room and the Plaintiff was alone, he fell off the bedside commode striking his head on the floor and causing a significant brain bleed.
Plaintiff presented expert testimony that the standard of care required nurses to stay with high fall risk patients while using the commode to prevent just such injuries from occurring. Patient safety was most important. Twin Lakes defended the case arguing that the Plaintiff had asked for privacy and that the nurses were simply complying with the Patient’s request.
The jury deliberated and found for the Plaintiff awarding $206,540. Prior to this case, the largest verdict ever against the hospital in Grayson County was $5,000.00. It is hoped that this verdict will send a message to Twin Lakes that it needs to update its policies to prevent patient injuries.