The eighty-four year-old patient was in the hospital recovering from cardiac surgery after a heart attack.
For several days she was heavily medicated and remained basically unconscious.
Four or five days after surgery she was beginning to regain consciousness and started using a bedside commode with hands-on help from two nurses.
The patient remained heavily medicated. That made her highly disoriented. While disoriented she tried several times to get out of bed by herself. The first few times nursing staff members were able to intervene and put her safely back to bed.
Then, during the night six days after surgery, she got up, fell, injured her head and elbow and broke her hip.
She died more than two years later from atherosclerosis unrelated to the fall. The family then filed suit for the injuries from her fall. The jury awarded them $1,000,000.
The family's nursing expert testified that the patient's repeated attempts to get out of bed mandated ongoing reevaluation of her fall risk.
Even though the nursing staff were able to intervene, there was no guarantee that expecting to catch her in the act of...