An Ohio patient recovering from a knee replacement or spinal fusion may be identified as a fall risk during a stay in the hospital. However, legal precedent may make it difficult for such a patient to file a medical malpractice claim if a serious fall occurs. Because frivolous malpractice claims are a concern throughout the nation, the legal system endeavors to eliminate such action through procedural measures. However, this can also make it difficult to proceed with litigation in case of a legitimate complaint.
In many states, an individual must have the support of a medical expert in confirming that negligence has taken place. Without this expert opinion, a case may be dismissed by the court. This means that there must be a reasonable and substantial connection between a slip-and-fall incident and the performance of a healthcare provider.
In proceeding with a hospital negligence claim for a fall, a patient might have to provide evidence of the action or inaction in question. For example, a patient on high levels of pain medications might be prompted to get out of bed if the call button has been ignored repeatedly in connection with a need to use the restroom. Although getting out of bed might seem to be a willful action of the patient, the negligence might be described as the failure of hospital staff to attend to the urgent needs of the patient. A fall that occurs because a patient willfully gets out of bed without an urgent need, however, might not be deemed to be a case of negligence.
In considering whether to file a medical malpractice claim, an individual might also need to consider whether serious damage resulted from the fall. A fall that does not result in serious physical harm might be a matter of carelessness but might not warrant legal action.