In 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services stopped paying for injuries that resulted from hospital falls. In other words, if a patient fell when in the hospital, then the hospital—rather than Medicare or Medicaid—was responsible for paying for the resulting injuries. The move was supposed to encourage hospitals to prevent patients from falling. However, hundreds of thousands of patients still fall annually and it may be time for hospitals to take additional precautions to guard against patient fall injuries.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Recommendations for Fall Prevention
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has suggested tools that could help hospitals cut the number of falls. Specifically, AHRQ wants hospitals to:
- Integrate fall prevention protocols into rounds.
- Group cognitively impaired patients in “safety zones.”
- Conduct post-fall assessments.
- Have patients demonstrate how to use the call button.
- Keep patients’ possessions within easy reach.
- Have patients wear non-slip, well fitted footwear.
- Make sure that beds and wheelchairs are appropriately braked.
- Keep beds at appropriate heights.
- Keep areas uncluttered.
- Use appropriate lighting.
- Make sure that floors are dry.
- Make sure handrails are sturdy.
- Take other precautions to prevent falls.
A fall injury could result in a broken bone, a head injury, or another type of injury. These injuries can be serious, they can extend hospital stays, and in some cases they can be deadly. Accordingly, it is important for hospitals to prevent patient falls—not only because they may have to pay for them, but also because they inflict real harm on patients.
But It Is Not Just Patients Who Are at Risk
Visitors to the hospital are also at risk of suffering fall injuries. If you’ve been hurt as visitor to the hospital then you may have a legal right to make a fair recovery. In order to protect those rights it is important to:
- Report the accident. Make sure that a manager or hospital administer knows that you fell.
- Accept appropriate medical care. If you are in pain, then it is important to accept emergency medical care from doctors and nurses. Even if you aren’t in pain, a medical exam is a great idea.
- Follow up with your own doctor. You may need ongoing care and it is important to consult with your own doctor and to follow your doctor’s orders to protect your recovery.
Call a Wisconsin Personal Injury Lawyer If You’ve Been Hurt
If you have been injured in a hospital fall—as a patient or a visitor—then we encourage you to contact a lawyer experienced in slip and fall accidents today via this website or by calling 800-800-5678. We would be pleased to provide you with a free consultation about your rights and possible recovery and to fight for the recovery that you deserve.