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Widow Receives $275K Settlement for Spouse’s Hospital Bed Fall

scale of justiceIn 2013, Jean Prouty filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington, Vermont after her husband, Donald E. Prouty, Jr., died at the age of 56 as a result of a bed fall. Prouty alleged that the facility failed to properly monitor her late husband, even though he was a high-risk patient for falling.

In early January 2016, a $275,000 medical malpractice settlement was reached between the plaintiff and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, pending judge approval.

Prouty, Jr. was admitted into the hospital late August 2013 for treatment of head and neck pain following a series of falls. It was reported that Prouty Jr., also suffered from Hepatitis C, which may have contributed to his dizziness, balance problems, hallucinations, and memory loss.

Wrongful death lawsuit details

On August 25, 2013, Prouty, Jr. reportedly left his bed unaccompanied to use the restroom, and as he was returning to the bed, he fell and suffered multiple pelvic fractures. After being transferred to another hospital, Prouty, Jr. passed away a few days later.

Jean Prouty stated in her complaint that her husband was left in his room unattended with deactivated sensors on his bed. The nursing staff was accused of providing insufficient medical care for a high fall risk patient.

Fall prevention methods

The National Council on Aging conducted a study that revealed that 30% of patient falls resulted in serious injury. In fact, the Annals of Internal Medicine found that hospital bed alarms were not very effective in preventing patients from falling out of beds or chairs.

However, hospitals are required to implement certain protocols for patients who are at risk for falling. Yet, these patients are oftentimes left without proper monitoring, which leads to such incidents.

Common fall prevention failures can include:

  • Patients left unattended in examination rooms or during a transfer
  • Lack of side rails on beds, clutter-free areas, and sufficient lighting
  • Use of multiple medications that can cause side effects that lead to falling

To reduce the frequency of these cases, some hospitals have placed monitoring devices in socks to alert the nursing staff of a patient who is attempting to leave their bedside. They may also have a nurse providing one-on-on supervision to ensure the patient does not fall.

Bed fall liability

Patients who have suffered an injury while receiving treatment and care in a hospital may be entitled to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice, negligence, personal injury, or even wrongful death.

For example, if you or a loved one were undergoing rehabilitation treatment and experienced a fall that resulted in injuries or death, the hospital may be liable.

With more than 30 years of experience, the Maine personal injury lawyers at Hardy, Wolf & Downing can help you seek the compensation you and your loved ones deserve. To arrange for your free case evaluation to discuss your legal options, call 1-800-INJURED.

  1. Bennington Banner, SVMC reaches $275k wrongful death settlement in Prouty settlement, http://www.benningtonbanner.com/localnews/ci_29351270/svmc-reaches-275k-wrongful-death-settlement-prouty-settlement
  2. WCAX.com, Vt. selectman's widow sues hospital over death, http://www.wcax.com/story/21827985/vt-selectmans-widow-sues-hospital-over-death