Police Officer Files Lawsuit Against University Hospital
Are you getting sick of hearing about medical malpractice lawsuits filed against universities? We are too. Nonetheless, the latest notice comes against the Medical University of South Carolina after a police officer suffered an on-the-job injury. According to the report, the police officer was on the shoulder of a road aiding a tow truck driver when a pickup truck hauling a trailer slammed into him. The officer suffered a traumatic brain injury and several broken bones and fractures.
Here is where it gets a little weird. According to the hospital, the patient became agitated while simultaneously losing consciousness. The patient was sedated and intubated, then placed in restraints to “mitigate a fall risk”. The family requested that the restraints remain in place, but the hospital disregarded their wishes and removed the restraints. The officer subsequently fell from his bed, injuring his shoulder and arm. He required surgery to repair the injury.
The plaintiffs contend that the hospital was negligent in failing to mitigate the fall risk after the family requested the restraints. They believe he suffered further injury from the decision and they are suing to recover damages related to the fall.
A complex case
This case is complicated by the fact that the plaintiff was severely injured when he got to the hospital, so determining what injuries are actionable based on negligence can be difficult. The family contends that the failure to mitigate the fall risk resulted in further injury to the officer. But determining damages could be tricky. The plaintiffs are suing for compensatory damages and punitive damages. Punitive damages in medical malpractice cases are rare. However, failing to restrain a patient who is a known fall risk is a basic kind of mistake that even the most medically unsavvy juror can understand. So, the basis of the case is that the hospital knew the officer was at risk of falling off the bed, the family requested that the officer remain in restraints, the hospital ignored the fall risk and the family’s request, and the officer was injured because the hospital did not follow through with their care plan.
Untangling what injuries were the result of the fall and what injuries were the result of the accident might be difficult, but here, the officer would only be entitled to damages arising from the fall and not damages arising from the accident. So the cost of the surgery would be computed plus pain and suffering damages related to the injury.
Obviously, the family is angry that the hospital failed to heed their advice and stick to the plan. However, the total damages in a case like this may not be very high and it remains unclear if punitive damages will be awarded in this case.
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Palmer | Lopez represents the interests of injured patients in medical malpractice lawsuits. Call our Tampa medical malpractice lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.