If You Fall at the Hospital, Is It Medical Malpractice?
When you have to go to the hospital, you expect that you won’t suffer additional injury because of the negligence of hospital personnel. But what if you fall while at the hospital? Would that be considered medical malpractice or just ordinary negligence, a slip and fall? Does it matter and, if so, why?
In some states, it can matter whether an injury at a hospital is determined to be medical malpractice or ordinary negligence. Many states, including Pennsylvania and Texas, have specific legal procedural rules that apply to medical malpractice claims. Because those rules don’t apply to slip and fall, motor vehicle accident and other “general negligence” claims, moving a medical malpractice claim forward in Pennsylvania typically requires a different strategy and often involves substantially more expense during the legal process.
In a strange twist, defense attorneys for medical professionals and their insurers have sought to argue that hospital falls do fall under the category of medical malpractice. They then seek to have the claims dismissed because the injured party failed to meet the more demanding procedural requirements for medical negligence actions.
The current state of the law in Pennsylvania is somewhat uncertain, though it seems likely that the court will carefully examine the nature of the fall to determine whether it constitutes medical carelessness. For example, a trip and fall on a stairway or hallway by a patient, unrelated to any medical care, will likely be considered a slip and fall, absent a showing of any duty of medical care tied to the fall. On the other hand, a patient who falls out of bed or from a gurney because of lack of proper restraint may be required to meet the special procedural provisions for medical malpractice claims.
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To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.
Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.