A woman, who fractured her spine in an avoidable accident, has been awarded €58,500 compensation for a hospital fall by a judge at the Circuit Civil Court.
Seventy-nine year old Margaret Fitzpatrick attended the Mater Hospital in April 2015 to undergo a gastroscopy procedure as a day patient. Following the conclusion of the procedure, Margaret was given a cup of tea and left alone to recover from being sedated. However, while still under the effects of the anaesthetic, she attempted to get out of bed and fell – sustaining a fractured spine.
Margaret – from Finglas in Dublin – remained at the hospital for nearly a month before being transferred to Clontarf Orthopaedic Hospital for further treatment. She was allowed home after three months, but is now heavily reliant on her family for day-to-day living, needs the support of a Zimmer frame to move around, and has to wear a lumbar brace at all times.
After seeking legal advice, Margaret claimed compensation for a hospital fall against the Mater Hospital. In her claim it was alleged that, due to a previous history of falling, she should have been closely monitored during her recovery. It was also alleged the hospital had been negligent in its duty of care by failing to adhere to its falls prevention policy.
The claim for compensation for a hospital fall went to the Circuit Civil Court, where it was heard by Judge James O´Donohoe. Judge Donohoe heard evidence from an expert witness who testified there was no indication the falls prevention policy had been applied in Margaret´s case. The judge also heard evidence from the recovery unit´s head of nursing who explained how Margaret´s accident had happened.
Commenting “what speaks volumes to this court is that the ward nurse who attended the plaintiff was not called to give evidence,” Judge O´Donohoe found in Margaret´s favour and awarded her €58,500 compensation for a hospital fall – giving the Mater Hospital leave to appeal the award provided they paid Margaret €30,000 of the award immediately.