This medical malpractice lawsuit was filed by an Ellicott City woman in Baltimore City University of Maryland Midtown Health against after the woman falls and suffers a traumatic brain injury due to a negligent assessment of her fall risk and inadequate fall prevention measures. It was filed in Health Claims Arbitration on May 8, 2017, and it is the 217th medical malpractice case filed in Maryland this year.Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations
A 35-year-old woman was admitted to the defendant hospital with an E. coli infection in her right eye and leg. She underwent a vitrectomy on her eye and surgical debridement on her leg. As a result of the infection and the surgeries, she was blind in her right eye and unsteady due to the pain and weakness in her right leg.
Over the five days that the woman was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), she required various restraints and her fall risk assessment was elevated to a "critical" fall risk. The woman did, in fact, fall from her bed while she was in the ICU. A subsequent CT scan was negative for any abnormalities. The woman was then transferred from the ICU to a telemetry unit, where her fall risk assessment dropped a startling forty points, inappropriately classifying her as a "standard risk" even though she had fallen just two days previously. This reduction in her score was supposedly due to the hospital personnel's failure to account for her recent fall in the ICU. As such, she was not afforded the necessary fall risk prevention measures.
After one week in the telemetry unit, the woman fell and violently struck her head. Over the next 24-hours the woman was behaving inappropriately, trying to take her gown off, pulling off her catheter dressing, insisting on using the bathroom rather than a bedpan, pulling off her monitor, and crying for unknown reasons. The next evening, the nurses noted that they were unable to wake the woman after she had fallen asleep. At noon the next day, she was still asleep, unarousable. After a CT scan, it was determined that she had an extensive multicompartmental intracranial hemorrhage.
She was transferred to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where a head CT revealed a linear left occipital skull fracture extending into the mastoid prominence, an intracranial hemorrhage, and a left subdural hematoma with mass effect. The woman underwent a craniotomy with evacuation and suffered extensive inpatient stays at multiple rehabilitation centers for traumatic brain injury and physical therapy. She now requires 24-hour care and supervision.Additional Comments
- The crux of this case is whether the victim should have been considered a critical fall risk. This issue comes up frequently in nursing home fall case in a very similar way that it comes up in this case.
- The most notable difference in this case and a nursing home case is the damages. Few nursing homes fall lead to permanent brain injuries that require 24-hour care. Even when they do, the life care plan is very different because the victim here was 35-years-old. She may also have future lost wages for the next 30-35 years.
- This case was filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court in June 2017. Waranch & Brown is defending the hospital.
- Baltimore City
- University of Maryland Midtown Health Inc.
- University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center
- Failure to properly assess the woman's fall risk
- Failure to put the appropriate safety measures in place to prevent falls for a high-risk patient
- Economic damages: lost wages, past and future medical expenses
- Noneconomic damages: physical and emotional pain, fear and anxiety, loss of consortium
- Donna Holton, RN, board-certified expert in nursing
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