Falls: Hospital May Be Liable for Patient Injury for Failure to Activate Bed Alarm
June 1, 2013 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance
A New Jersey appellate court found sufficient evidence to allow a jury to determine whether a hospital breached its duty of care to an 86-year-old, high-fall-risk patient who was injured in a fall from a bed equipped with an alarm, reversing a lower court decision that granted summary judgment in favor of the hospital.
The patient was hospitalized after falling at home, and on admission, she was provided falls interventions according to the hospital's high-fall-risk protocol. One of the interventions involved the use of a bed with an alarm that would sound whenever the patient moved, alerting caregivers if the patient attempted to get out of bed. The bed alarm switch was located at the foot of the bed, and a cover needed to be lifted to turn the alarm on or off. Staff testified that they often turned bed alarms off while attending...