A woman who fractured her spine in a hospital fall has been awarded compensation for her injury by the Circuit Civil Court.
In April 2015, while attending the Mater Hospital for day surgery, a seventy-nine year old woman (who remains anonymoud) attempted to get out of bed when she slipped and fell. The woman-originally from Finglas, Dublin-was recovering from the general anaesthetic administered to her due to her surgery when the accident occurred. Due to the hard impact with the floor, she fractured her spine.
The woman spent a month in the Mater Hospital recovering from the injuries to her spine. She was then transferred to the Clontarf Orthopaedic Hospital for further treatment by specialists and physiotherapy treatment. She now has to wear a lumbar brace and use a Zimmer frame to support herself when she walks.
The woman is dependant upon a significant amount of care and assisstance, which is largely provided by her daughter. This is in a sharp constant to her having led a largely independent life before the accident. After seeking legal counsel, she made a nursing negligence claim against the Mater Hospital. In the claim, she alleged that ithe hospital had failed to adhere to its fall prevention policy.
The defendants denied liability for her injuries, so the nursing negligence claim was heard by Judge James O´Donohoe at the Circuit Civil Court. The judge informed by the plaintiff´s barrister that the woman should have been closely monitored at the hospital due to her having a severe fall at her home the previous November. An expert witness on behalf of the witness testified the hospital should have been aware of her fall and recorded it in the woman´s care plan.
Judge O´Donohoe heard from the head of nursing at the Mater, who explained to the judge how the accident had happened. However, the defendants could not explain why the hospital´s fall prevention policy had not been adhered to or why the nurse who attended the woman after her fall had not been called to give evidence. The judge told the court the absence of the attending nurse “spoke volumes”.
After hearing from the plaintiff´s daughter that her mother was “not the woman she had been prior to her fall”, Judge O´Donohoe found in the woman´s favour. She was awarded €58,500 in settlement of her nursing negligence claim, but placing a stay on €28,500 of the settlement pending an appeal from the Mater Hospital.