West Palm Beach, FL—A South Florida hospital last week was found liable for more than $900,000 in damages over its role in the fall that broke a patient’s hip and left her restricted to a walker. Harrison v. West Boca Medical Center, 2016-CA-009017.
Jurors in Florida’s 15th Circuit Court needed less than three hours to find the West Boca Medical Center responsible for the 2015 hip fracture Dolores Moore suffered while staying at the Boca Raton hospital. The $909,000 award includes $300,000 for Moore’s pain and suffering and more than $600,000 for her medical expenses.
Moore, now 82, broke her hip in a late-night fall from her hospital bed after being admitted for a sodium deficiency. The break required orthopedic surgery and a 48-day nursing home stay. However, the break never healed properly and Moore remains restricted to a walker, according to her attorneys.
The award was the lion’s share of the $1.3 million Gordon & Doner’s Scott Fischer, representing Moore’s daughter Lauren Harrison, sought at trial for the fall.
The four-day trial turned on whether the nurses did enough to safeguard Moore from a fall.
During Friday’s closing arguments, FalkWaas’ RoseMarie Antonacci-Pollock, representing the hospital, described the fall as an unfortunate accident and said evidence showed nurses followed appropriate safety protocol based on the Morse Fall Scale, a test for assessing a patient's fall risk. Antonacci-Pollock detailed steps nurses took to minimize the possibility of a fall, including instructing Moore to use a nurse-call button whenever she wanted to stand, raising two guardrails along the bed, and attaching an alarm to the bed. “The outcome doesn't dctate whether the standard of care was met.The evidence dictates it.” Antonacci-Pollock said. “The nurse met the standard of care. There was no negligence.”
However, Fischer characterized the fall-prevention steps as “form over substance. He reminded jurors Moore’s fall risk increased based on sodium-deficiency complications and said the hospital should have raised a third bed rail to protect against a fall. “The hospital really only had two jobs in this case,” Fischer said, detailing what he claimed was the hospital’s duty to keep Moore safe during her treatment. “They failed miserably.”
Email Arlin Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lauren Harrison is represented by Gordon & Doner’s Scott Fischer and Robert Gordon.
West Boca Medical Center Inc. is represented by Robert S. Covitz and Rosemarie Antonacci-Pollock, of Falk, Waas, Hernandez, Cortina, Solomon & Bonner.
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