hospital-stayThe potential for a patient to fall in a hospital setting is a matter that requires added vigilance. In these cases, an attorney’s presentation should include an expert witness in hospital administration.

The expert witness might be a member of a hospital’s risk management team, such as an MBA hospital administrator, a physician, a nurse, or a risk compliance officer.  The key to qualifying the expert testimony revolves around the applicable standard of care and/or ordinary negligence standards applicable in a given jurisdiction.

Pinpointing the elements of the cause of action and selecting an expert witness in hospital administration with appropriate credentials are the two opening steps.

Where an attorney hits the mark with the hospital fall case is the expert witness in hospital administration with hands-on experience designing, implementing, and monitoring this safety protocol.  In other words, the very elements a litigator looks for in the expert witness in hospital administration for mandatory, federal statutes like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act are the same elements he or she wants to find in the hospital safety expert witness for a non-statutorily required risk management issue like patient falls.

If you are a defense attorney, the supporting expert witness in hospital administration can highlight the culture of vigilance that surrounds your client’s personnel.  The defense hospital safety expert witness can point to the steps undertaken by the hospital that were not required by law, went beyond the generally accepted standard of care, and were designed to minimize patient risk of a fall.  For example, the expert can opine that the hospital have recently purchased a new inventory of pressure-sensitive beds with alarms to decrease staff response time for the patient who may be sleepwalking as a potential side effect of a prescription medication.

The expert witness in hospital administration for the plaintiff, by contrast, is articulating the gold standard of medical care and management of the hospital setting.  The expert witness is emphasizing the significant number of medical and public health studies undertaken on this specific issue, including the multi-factorial analysis recommended on patient intake, upon change of medical status, and for the patient care environment.  For example, a hospital might have a higher-than-average fall rate, but not have conducted a single post-incident assessment by a risk management team to consider such measures as increasing nurse staffing and decreasing the time between rounds.

The practice tip take-away is to strongly consider the use of an expert witness in hospital administration, even if you were thinking that it wasn’t distinguishable from other slip and fall cases.  The specialized environment of the hospital and the condition of the patient vault the evidentiary needs into that for a qualified expert witness in hospital administration and hospital safety.

By: Paloma Capanna, Attorney at Law