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Falls in Hospitals

August 28, 2023

Up to 1,000,000 people in the U.S. suffer a fall in the hospital each year. A fall may cause fractures, lacerations, or internal bleeding. One in four falls result in injury, with about 10% resulting in serious injury. That’s about 250,000 injuries and 11,000 deaths. Also, approximately 2% of hospitalized patients fall at least once during their stay.

Studies show that nearly a third of these falls can be prevented by managing a patient’s underlying fall risk factors and optimizing the hospital’s physical design and environment.

Fall Risk Factors

Most patient falls are caused by a combination of factors, and hospitals and healthcare facilities must take the following fall risk factors into account:

  • Previous fall history: Patients who’ve fallen recently are more likely to fall again unless the factors that led to the fall are addressed.
  • Gait instability and lower-limb weakness: Gait problems and lower-limb weakness can be caused by physical illness, deconditioning from periods of inactivity, and age-related changes in gait and balance. A lack of access to walking aids, bedrest, and limited activity during hospitalization can make these problems worse.
  • Urinary incontinence, frequency, and/or the need for toileting: Medications and IV fluids given during a hospital stay can increase urinary urgency and the need for frequent use of the bathroom, and to avoid incontinence, patients may get up quickly without assistance, resulting in a fall.
  • Agitation, confusion, or impaired judgment: Patients who are agitated or confused are at risk of falling out of bed or getting up without help.
  • Medications: Patients in the hospital frequently are administered medications that may be new, and the side effects may cause dizziness, unsteadiness, postural hypotension, and urinary urgency, increasing the chances of a fall.

Medical staff must be aware of these risks and consider a patient’s susceptibility to a fall when providing care and treatment. As you can see, there are a lot causes of falls in hospitals and healthcare facilities, but a fall won’t be considered a result of malpractice unless it was caused by medical negligence. When a fall occurs that may have been prevented, a patient may initiate a negligence lawsuit. A medical malpractice lawsuit must satisfy four criteria:

  1. The patient was owed a duty of care.
  2. That duty was breached by a deviation from accepted standards of care.
  3. The patient suffered damages.
  4. The damages were a direct result of the medical provider’s breach of duty.

In order for a fall injury in a healthcare facility to meet these criteria, the fall must have been the result of a medical provider’s failure in providing an acceptable level of care. This can happen when a physician fails to diagnose or misdiagnoses a condition that affects the patient’s balance; the patient is overmedicated, not made aware of a medication’s side effects, or prescribed a medication that conflicts with another prescription; the patient’s fall risk wasn’t assessed or managed correctly; or many other reasons.

Help After a Hospital Fall

Patients who’ve suffered a fall due to medical negligence can have a more difficult recovery from their original injury or illness. They may suffer new injuries or complications, and also experience unnecessary emotional and mental stress because of the fall.


If a fall in a hospital, rehab center, nursing home or other medical facility has resulted in injuries, contact Buchanan Firm. We offer a free consultation with an experienced Michigan medical malpractice attorney.

Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after hours, at home, or in the hospital to accommodate you.

Contact us today.