Robenalt Law Fights for People Who Were Injured as a Result of a Fall After A a Surgical Procedure
Falls after surgery are not uncommon. In fact, falls are the leading cause of patient injuries in hospitals today. Every year, between 700,000 and 1 million people fall in a hospital. Between 30% and 51% of those people suffer injuries. Some of these injuries are serious, and may result in traumatic brain injuries that can lead to wrongful death.
Surgery, the use of anesthesia, and pain medications that are often prescribed after surgery create a fall risk that doctors, nurses, hospitals, and the surgical team should account for.
If you or someone you care about suffered an injury as a result of a fall in a hospital after surgery, you might have a case for medical negligence.
Factors that Increase the Risk of Falls After Surgery
Anesthesia used during a surgical procedure makes patients groggy and unsteady, and can result in increased risk of a fall after surgery. Pain medications, or a combination of medications prescribed after surgery can also cause a patient to fall after surgery.
Surgical patients lose blood during surgery, and may become dehydrated. Other times, a patient may suffer a post-surgical complication such as a stroke that results in confusion or limited mobility.
These are risks of a surgical procedure put patients at an increased risk of falling and that the doctor, nurses, hospital, and surgical team must account for and take appropriate precautions to prevent.
In fact, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) considers falls after surgery to be “never events” - meaning they should not occur and are completely preventable.
This also means that doctors, nurses, and hospitals have a duty to protect patients from foreseeable risks.
Common causes of falls after surgery include:
Poorly trained staff
Poor communication between hospital staff
Failure to follow proper lifting and transfer techniques
Failure to use patient lifting devices
Failing to use bed rails
Hospitals are required to assess post-surgical patients to determine their fall risk, then implement and enforce appropriate fall prevention protocols. These fall risk protocols must be updated as the patient’s condition changes. The hospital must manage the patient’s underlying fall risk, including problems with walking, mobility, side effects from medications and anesthesia, confusion, and assistance with toileting needs. The hospital should also have a written protocol for how they will prevent the patient from falling.
Fall Risk Assessments Are Required to Prevent Falls After Surgery
Post-operative care is just as important as the medical care provided during a surgical procedure. Unfortunately, errors after surgery can result result in significant injuries, and even paralysis.
Any surgical procedure is hard on the body. Anesthesia and post-surgical pain medications can leave patients confused, disoriented, and at an increased risk of falling.
As a result, patients must be closely monitored after surgery to make sure they recover from the effects of anesthesia.
The doctor, nurses, and hospital staff are responsible for caring for a patient after surgery. This includes conducting a fall risk assessment. If the medical team fails to provide appropriate care, including adequate fall prevention protocols, and a patient falls and is injured, then the doctor, nurses, hospital, and other members of the surgical team could be held liable for medical negligence.
The fall risk assessment should include an analysis of:
Not everyone will recover from anesthesia in the same way and the fall risk protocol will depend on the individual patient’s fall risk. Failing to follow the fall risk protocol is a medical error, as is failing to properly identify whether the patient is a fall risk.
Falls after surgery are usually covered by the doctor-patient relationship and are subject to the 1-year statute of limitations for medical claims in Ohio.
Many hospitals, doctors, and nurses defend themselves by claiming contributory negligence - that the plaintiff did something to contribute to their injury.
In the context of falls after surgery, however, patients are often in a vulnerable state and are unable to protect themselves from harm.
At Robenalt Law We Fight for People Injured in Falls After Surgery
At Robenalt Law, we represent people and the families of those who have been victims of medical negligence.
Cases involving falls after surgery require a careful analysis by a skilled and experienced medical malpractice attorney. The hospital’s duty of care will vary from case to case. To win a case involving a fall after surgery, a medical malpractice lawyer must review the patient’s chart and hospital procedures and protocols, and will often need to engage the services of multiple medical experts to determine whether the hospital, nurses’, or doctor’s conduct fell below the standard of care, and whether the fall was the cause of the patient’s injuries.
Ohio medical malpractice cases are complex. Most are subject to a short 1 year statute of limitations.
Tom Robenalt started his litigation career at a large firm in Cleveland where he represented doctors and hospitals accused of medical malpractice. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help victims and the families of those injured by negligent health care providers.
Thomas D. Robenalt
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