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Hospital Safety Expert Witness

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Hospital safety specialists supervise physicians to ensure that they are performing their jobs to the utmost of their ability. Safety administrators must ensure that physicians' plans of treatment are effective and safe, and that all procedures conducted within the facility are in line with relevant codes and laws.

One of AME's hospital safety expert witnesses has written an exclusive medical malpractice article that we have provided, for your interest, below.

Hospital Falls - Malpractice Cases

Common issues associated with nurses and hospitals are falls due to the lack of the use of rails. An elderly confused patient, or a patient narcotized with pain medicine or sedatives, requires full length side rails up so they can't fall out of bed.

The same is true for a combative, uncooperative or unstable patient. If the nurses' notes show they did not raise the side rails, or if witnesses, including the roommate, say the rails were not raised, and the patient falls out of bed and injures himself, it's negligence on the part of the hospital and the nurses. (Perhaps physician liability also if the doctor was aware that this was an elderly patient and he failed to write the side rail order.)

Nurses have an independent duty to ensure the safety of their patients, so you have three defendants: the nurse, the hospital and the doctor. The nurses have the independent duty to see whether or not the patient needs side rails and if so, they can and must follow good nursing practice and hospital policy and raise the rails themselves without an order. In fact, when to use side rails is or should be indicated in the hospital rules of almost every hospital, as set forth by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals (JCAH). If the hospital accepts elderly Medicare-insured patients, that hospital must be certified by the JCAH, and the JCAH states that with elderly, confused, or drugged patients, side rails must be used.

Were the Nurses Too Busy?

When a patient injures himself, in the hospital, and you claim nursing negligence in failing to supervise and protect the patient, determine how busy the nursing staff was at the time of the incident. Also consider whether they were understaffed. Through discovery obtain the "nursing orders" in effect for all the patients on that nursing unit (floor or ward) and their diagnoses. (You don't need their names.) If the nursing unit was understaffed (by a greedy hospital making a higher profit from lower labor costs), how could your client receive proper nursing care and supervision?



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