Personal Injury, Damages Awarded €58,500 over fall in hospital while sedated

Woman (79) awarded €58,500 over fall in hospital while sedated

Margaret Fitzpatrick ‘no longer woman she was’ after fracturing spine in Mater incident

Thu, Jul 27, 2017, Irish Times

A 79-year-old woman who fell and fractured her spine when left alone and sedated in a hospital recovery unit, has been awarded €58,500 damages against the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital.

In the Circuit Civil Court, Judge James O’Donohoe told barrister Matthew Jolley, counsel for woman that his client was no longer the woman she was before falling after an uneventful endoscopic investigation.

Mr Jolley had told the court she had walked unaided into the Mater in April 2015 but was now housebound following a long period in hospital.

“Instead of going home following a successful gastroscopy she had to be detained for almost a month in the Mater before transfer to the orthopaedic hospital in Clontarf for another three months,” Mr Jolley said.

The Plaintiff  had initially attended court and given evidence from her wheelchair but was not present for the reserved judgment.

Her daughter said she was totally independent prior to the fall. “I feared for her life when she was in Clontarf hospital and I took her out of it. She had been on morphine and I feared she might have a stroke,” she said.

Judge O’Donohoe said her initial procedure had a good outcome but “tragically things changed for the worse.”

He said that while coming out of the sedation and having been given tea and toast in the day ward she attempted to put on her shoes at her bedside and fell and fractured her spine.

Judge O’Donohoe said she had a myriad of medical problems which necessitated hospitalisation in November 2014 after a fall at home, rendering her at risk from further falls.

Special monitoring

He had heard on behalf of the hospital that prior to her endoscopy there had been no indication for special monitoring beyond the usual nursing practice.

“The usual nursing care practice required in these particular circumstances was to have the Mater Hospital falls prevention plan implemented,” the judge said, adding that there was no indication it was applied in her case.

The judge said  the Plaintiff sued the Mater Hospital for negligence for failure in their management of her, given her medical history. On the expert evidence tendered on behalf of the Plaintiff he found that the Mater had failed to adhere to their own falls prevention policy

“What speaks volumes to this court is that the ward nurse who attended the plaintiff was not called to give evidence,” he said.

Staff nurse, head of nursing in the unit, told the court he did not personally deal with the Plaintiff and had been at the nurse station when he heard a shout for help. He found the Plaintiff lying on the floor.

The nurse said she had been wearing both of her slippers and had one of her slippered feet partly into a boot when he found her. He agreed that the woman’s attempt to do this suggested she had not fully recovered from the sedation.

Judge O’Donohoe said the woman suffered a horrific injury fracturing her spine and requiring further hospitalisation as an inpatient at Clontarf Hospital. She was now required to use a lumbar brace and zimmer frame for walking.

“She is a remarkable woman and clearly very resilient but put simply she is not the woman she was according to her daughter who gave evidence,” he said.

Barrister Paul McGinn was granted a stay pending consideration of an appeal to the High Court but was told that because of the Plaintiff's age there would have to be a pay-out to her of €30,000.

 

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/circuit-court/woman-79-awarded-58-500-over-fall-in-hospital-while-sedated-1.3168517

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