The analysis of nursing liability after a patient fall addresses whether there was a deviation from the standard of care. These are the most common allegations that nursing expert witnesses and plaintiff and defense attorneys should consider.
Nursing liability surrounding a patient fall may fit into one or more of these allegations:
Common Allegations in Patient Falls
The legal system is set up to assign blame, if warranted, after patient falls. These are some of the common allegations in these cases.
• Failure to identify the patient as being at risk for falls
• Failure to periodically re-evaluate the patient’s risk for falls
• Failure to reassign a new risk for falls following a fall
• Failure to identify an individualized plan of care for a patient at risk for falls
• Failure to instruct the patient to call for help, if able, when ambulating
• Failure to provide the appropriate degree of monitoring for a patient at risk for falls
• Failure to supply the appropriate amount of assistance when ambulating or transferring a patient
• Failure to use available interventions such as safety straps in the OR, lifting systems, floor mats, one to one sitters, bed alarms, lockable windows, and Wanderguards
• Failure to detect signs of injury after a patient has falled
• Failure to notify a physician (and in some settings, the family and regulatory agencies) of the fall
• Failure to recognize and report signs of deterioration after a fall
• Concealing evidence of a fall
Barbara J. Levin BSN, RN, ONC, CMSRN, LNCC, Kelly Shanley MSN, RN, Elizabeth Hill, PhD, RN, PLNC, Falls and their Consequences, in Pat Iyer, Barbara Levin, Kathleen Ashton and Victoria Powell, Nursing Malpractice, Fourth Edition.
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