We reached a settlement on behalf of the estate of a 92-year old man who fell and suffered a fractured hip shortly after admission to the telemetry unit at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital.
The client was brought to the emergency room by the rescue squad after his live-in caretaker became concerned that he started to become short of breath after refusing to use his home oxygen supply. While in the emergency room, he refused to follow instructions and became agitated and had to be sedated with Ativan after being told he was going to be admitted to the hospital. He was brought up to the telemetry unit at the change of shifts, and his family advised the nurse finishing her shift that he had ot be wacthed closely because he would get confused, forget where he was, and try to get out of bed on his own and fall. That information was not communicated to the nurse on the next shift. She determined that no bed alarm was needed for the client even though he had demonstrated noncompliance and agitation, both of which are poor signals that the patient will be compliant with instructions to use a call light. Approximately two hours after arriving on the telemetry unit, the client got out of bed, took off his gown (which would have sounded an alarm by disrupting the signal to the heart monitors), and attempted to walk to the bathroom and fell suffering a fractured hip. Following surgery, he suffered a heart attack and lived for twelve days before dying of complications from the hip fracture.
We were prepared to present evidence at trial that the care provided at the hospital was substandard in that: 1) the nurse who received the warnings from the patient’s family failed to pass them on to the next shift; 2) that the nurse on duty at the time of the fall failed to consider signs that the patient was likely to be noncompliant with care, including his agaitation and noncompliance in the emergency room, and 3) the nursing staff failed to implement a physician order for the client to be assisted to the bathroom.
Awarded: $275,000 settlement