Visitor Question

Fell when left unattended…

Submitted By: A (USA)

I was in the hospital recovering from a knee replacement surgery. Two days after the surgery I was taken into the bathroom by the nurse, who left me there to ring when I was done. The next thing I know I passed out and fell. I ruptured my bicep and tore my rotator cuff in the fall.

I was wearing a fall risk bracelet at the time, and my file said I was only allowed out of bed “with assistance.” Wouldn’t the nurse and/or hospital be liable for my injuries since I was left unattended? What can I do about this? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear A,

It appears the nurse followed proper procedure. Your file said you were only allowed out of bed with assistance. From the facts you present it appears you were given assistance all the way to the bathroom.

Unless you believe the assistance required the nurse to stay with you while you were in the bathroom, or unless you made clear to the nurse you required assistance while in the bathroom, you don’t appear to have the basis of a negligence claim against the hospital. To have the basis of a claim would require you to prove the nurse deviated from the correct procedure outlined in your file.

From the facts you present it appears the nurse followed correct procedure, especially as the nurse told you to “ring” when you were done.

While personal injury negligence claims normally involve “legalisms” including, but not limited to negligence, direct and proximate cause, affirmative defenses, and more, common sense is also a factor.

If the case were to go to court it is likely the court would want to know if you believed having the nurse with you in the bathroom was necessary. Further, the court would want to know why you didn’t ask the nurse to stay with you while you were using the bathroom.

Your surgery was a knee replacement. There is no indication you were unable to clearly think and speak for yourself at the time the nurse assisted you. Therefore, you could have simply told the nurse you wanted her, or him, to stay with you. You made no such request.

Moreover, you make no mention of any evidence you were sedated, or under the influence of drugs which would have made it difficult for you to express yourself.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: May 19, 2014

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