Lady B aged 72 with a complex medical history underwent a bilateral hip replacement operation on the 21st February 2007 at the Goring Hall Hospital in West Sussex. In the early hours of the 26th February 2007 she was found on the floor of her room having fallen and having fractured her femur. The Claimant alleged that the fall was caused by a lack of adequate nursing care in that the nurses failed to put the cot sides up around her bed on the evening of the 25th February 2007. Up until that point the cot sides had been put up so it was argued that the Claimant had got used to them. The Defendant's not only denied liability but they also argued that the reason that she fell was due to spontaneous fracture of her left femur, which they say was a natural complication of the hip surgery and could have happened whilst she was in bed or as soon as she started to weight-bear. The Claimant maintained that the fracture occurred as a result of her stumbling in an attempt to get to her walking frame when she got out of bed.
The case went to a 3 day trial. The Judge gave Judgment in favour of the Claimant, finding that the nursing staff had been negligent in causing the Claimant's accident by failing to put up the cot sides on the evening of the 25th February.The Judge awarded her £19000 to reflect the fact that any ongoing problems with mobility were due to the claimants other medical conditions.
The case is of interest because the issues surrounding the use of cot sides are controversial and the basic principle is that cot sides should not be used as there is risk that a patient could injure themselves getting tangled up in them.