Elderly patient died after falling from bed at Sunderland Royal Hospital

Christopher Ross, 88, who died after a fall at Sunderand Royal Hospital.
Christopher Ross, 88, who died after a fall at Sunderand Royal Hospital.
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A PENSIONER died from complications after he fell while getting out of bed at Sunderland Royal Hospital, an inquest heard,

Christopher Ross, 88, had undergone surgery after breaking his hip in a fall at home, only to break the other hip in the second fall.

Sunderland Royal Hospital

Sunderland Royal Hospital

The break was not immediately diagnosed, because Mr Ross initially complained of pain in his ankle and not his hip, but the inquest heard he had died of bronchial pneumonia as a result of existing health problems, exacerbated by the falls, and it was ‘highly unlikely’ treating the second fall any sooner would have made any difference.

A post mortem examination revealed he had emphysema and one lung had collapsed because of a hiatus hernia.

The inquest, at Sunderland Coroners’ Court, heard Mr Ross would usually use a urine bottle in bed if he needed the toilet during the night.

Staff nurse Heidi Matibag said she had been on duty at 3am when she heard Mr Ross calling for help and found him lying on the floor. I was asking him why he did not use the call bell,” she said.

“He appeared slightly confused. He thought he was at home and I said, ‘You are in the hospital’.”

Ward Matron Sharon McDowell said she had reviewed the care provided to Mr Ross.

The cot sides on the bed had been up, but it was still possible to get out of the bed.

“If patients are determined to be out of bed, if a patient wishes to, they can push themselves down to the bottom of the bed and get out,” she said.

“On reviewing the nursing and medical records, my professional opinion is that everything was done that we would expect to be carried out for this gentleman.

“There does not appear to have been any indication that we needed to escalate to one-to-one care or individual support.”

“I know there was concern about a delay in the x-ray. My understanding is he was complaining of ankle pain – there was no indication of a fractured hip.

“When there was a complaint of pain from the hip, the x-ray was done within 30 minutes and he went to theatre within best practice times recommended.”

Deputy coroner Karin Welsh, delivering a narrative conclusion, said Mr Ross’ family had been keen to ensure the same thing could not happen to anyone else: “I have considered very seriously with regard to the provisions in place for Mr Ross.

“I can fully understand the family’s concern but, having considered that, I cannot identify any particular matters which should have been done by the hospital which would have prevented the second fall,” she said.

“It is clear the falls were a triggering and exacerbating event but it is also clear that Mr Ross had underlying health difficulties.

“He died as a result of naturally occurring disease process following two falls.”