16 Dec Virginia: Patient Fall – a Lawyer’s Newspaper
On December 14, 2012, The Daily Press headlined “Jury awards #3.5M to woman, 87, who fell” and www.dailypress.com headlined “NN jury makes $3.5 million award to 87 year-old.” The identical articles cover Mr. Waterman’s recent patient fall trial, Burrell v. Riverside Hospital, Inc., No. CL1101633F-15 in the Circuit Court for the City of Newport News, Virginia.
The Daily Press quoted Mr. Waterman re his sizeable favorable verdict for the 87 year-old: “It’s vindication that the elderly aren’t throwaways.” Historically, there has been a defense mindset that medical malpractice cases involving older victims are not worth much.
The Daily Press also quoted Mr. Waterman about the magnitude of the patient fall problem beyond Riverside. “It happens in hospitals and nursing homes in every health system. It’s a chronic problem in every state nationwide. It’s rampant.”
Riverside’s Risk Manager declined The Daily Press’ interview request about the patient fall case. Instead, Riverside issued a prepared statement, expressing disappointment with the $3,500,00.00 jury award, considering its appeal options, and extolling its quality.
The Daily Press article recounts the preventative measures that should have been used by Riverside for its victim in-patient: (1) relocating the patient closer to the nurse’s station; (2) using a bed alarm; (3) using a sitter; and (4) using soft restraints, like a posey vest. It recounts further that some nurses do not like using bed alarms because of “false positives,” but quotes Mr. Waterman that “some false positives are a worthwhile inconvenience” toward avoiding such serious personal injuries and even wrongful death.
The Daily Press highlighted Mr. Waterman calling 8 highly-credentialed experts among his more than 40 witnesses and him using new key technology to demonstrate the victim’s brain injury, including 3.0 Tesla MRI with its cutting-edge Diffusion Tensor Imaging (“DTI”) and NeuroQuant Analysis. Additionally, it marqueed Mr. Waterman’s reliance on his 2006 Virginia Supreme Court decision against Riverside – Riverside Hosp., Inc. v. Johnson, 272 Va. 518 (2006) – to introduce into evidence 4 “incident report” documents containing factual information of patient care that was not entered in the patient’s chart by Riverside personnel.