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Patient claims damages for fall caused by hospital negligence

Does a hospital have a duty to use due care in preventing falls to Parkinson's patients? The answer is most likely yes, with respect to hospitals both here in Louisiana and nationwide. This is true at least under most typical circumstances where the patient's symptoms indicate a danger of falling. If the hospital does not provide special procedures to prevent a fall due to the patient's Parkinson's or other neurological deficit, this may constitute hospital negligence.

That is the answer asserted by an estate administrator representing the interests of a deceased relative who died in the defendant hospital after suffering severe injuries in a fall in her hospital room. The patient was a Parkinson's disease sufferer who had been admitted to the hospital emergency room with symptoms of seeing spots, garbled speech and being nearly unconscious due to low blood pressure. She fell while trying to use a commode at her bedside.

The fall resulted in severe injuries, including a broken hip and head contusions that progressively worsened and led to her death. The basis of the claim of hospital negligence is that the defendant did not provide adequate measures for fall prevention. It is also claimed that the institution did not provide the patient with a functioning call light and/or a sitter.

It is well known that accidental falls are a prime cause of death to elderly patients, both here in Louisiana and nationwide. Those older patients with Parkinson's require an even higher standard of vigilance. Under the circumstances, there appears to have been a failure to use due care to prevent serious injury or death to the patient. The case appears to have a good chance for success, especially if it can be proved that the call light was not functioning, which is an important failure of care indicating hospital negligence.  

Source:, "Family accuses health care provider of medical malpractice", Philip Gonzales, May 10, 2016

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