Is a hospital/ nursing home negligent if a patient falls?

While in the hospital, my mother in law rang her call button. They failed to answer it for over an hour so she got up to use the restroom and fell and broke her foot. Several days later, they moved her to a nursing home. That same day, she rang the call button at 4 am to again use the restroom. Again, it went unanswered for over an hour. So she got up to go by herself and fell again. She is now in ICU at the hospital. What if she was having difficulty breathing? An hour is too long to wait for a call button to be answered. What if she dies from this fall? She is bleeding around the brain?

Akron, OH -

Attorney Answers (3)

Joseph Anthony Condeni

Joseph Anthony Condeni

Personal Injury Lawyer - Cleveland, OH
Answered

This is a case that should certainly be investigated further. There are a number of potential claims that would depend on whether the hospital or nursing home breached the standard of care for your mother-in-law. Based on the information you have provided, I suspect the strongest case is against the nursing home as they knew your mother-in-law already had a broken foot.
Please note that there are time limits as short as one year for bringing these types of cases. Ohio requires that an affidavit of merit must be included with the complaint establishing both a basis for liability and damages. This takes time to obtain so your mother-in-law should not delay in consulting with an attorney. I would be happy to discuss this matter further if you or your in-laws wish.

L. Maxwell Taylor

L. Maxwell Taylor

Litigation Lawyer - Middlebury, VT
Answered

Failing to respond for an hour sounds like a breach of the standard of care to me. There might well be liability here as to both the hospital AND the nursing home. I agree, an hour sounds too long to me. Now you need to get an expert who'll testify that an hour is far too long.

Usually I discourage people from pursuing malpractice claims, but this one really does need to be evaluated by a medical malpractice lawyer in Ohio. If she dies, there may well be a wrongful death claim.

Not legal advice as I don't hold Ohio licensure. If you need legal advice, please consult a lawyer who does.

Good luck.

Michael J. Helfand

Michael J. Helfand

Workers' Compensation Lawyer - Chicago, IL
Answered

A hospital or nursing home isn't automatically negligent if a patient falls, but it's a red flag that negligence may be involved. Basically, you'll have to show that the hospital fell below the standard of care. In other words, if waiting an hour before answering a call button is unreasonable under the circumstances (and it may be), then it would be considered negligent. I think you should talk to a malpractice attorney about this. It shouldn't cost you anything to get a consultation and some specific advice. I'm licensed in Illinois, but if you need a referral, give me a call. I can recommend an experienced attorney who practices in your area. 1-800-807-9530.

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