Award of Hospital Fall Injury Compensation Put on Hold

A €58,500 award of hospital fall injury compensation – made in favour of a seventy-nine year old woman – has been put on hold by a Circuit Civil Court judge.

In April 2015, the woman from Finglas in Dublin attended the city´s Mater Misericordiae University Hospital as a day patient for a gastroscopy procedure. Following the procedure, she was left alone to recover from her sedation and, while attempting to get out of bed, fell – suffering a spinal fracture.

As a result of her accident, the woman spent nearly a month recovering in the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital before being transferred to the Orthopaedic Hospital in Clontarf for a further three months. She now has to permanently wear a lumbar brace and has to rely on a wheelchair for her mobility.

The woman subsequently made a claim for hospital fall injury compensation, alleging medical staff should not have left her on her own when it was known she had previously fallen at her home. She claimed the hospital had further failed in its duty of care by not adhering to its falls prevention policy.

The claim for hospital fall injury compensation was heard by Judge James O´Donohoe at the Circuit Civil Court. At the hearing, the judge was told the plaintiff had lost her independence due to the accident and was a changed woman as a result. The judge also heard testimony from an expert witness who said, considering the woman´s previous medical history, she should have been monitored more closely.

Finding that no special precautions had been taken to ensure the safety of a patient known to have fallen previously, Judge O´Donohoe awarded the woman €58,500 hospital fall injury compensation. He then put the award on hold pending an appeal from the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital subject to the hospital paying €30,000 of the compensation award at once.