Mr Wrigley was 84 at the time of his fall but, despite his age, he was in good health and almost entirely independent. He worked almost full time in the care home owned by his wife and his son. He had previously suffered a subdural haematoma and had recovered well from this, although he was diagnosed with epilepsy as a result of the haematoma for which he took medication.
Relevant events began when Mr Wrigley fell at home. When his wife found him, he explained that he had fallen and that he had hurt his shoulder. An ambulance was called and he was taken to Whipps Cross Hospital that evening. Despite his history of epilepsy, his medication and his age, a falls risk assessment was not completed. His sodium levels were found to be low, which can cause confusion and loss of balance, but no action was taken to correct this. He was placed in a side room off the corridor leading to the main ward area, out of sight of the nurses' station.
A couple of days later, Mr Wrigley fell in the side bay. On assessment his Glasgow Coma Score had fallen to 6. He had a laceration to the right side of his head and was very agitated. A CT scan of his brain was taken which showed a new bleed thought to have been caused by the fall. A decision was made that Mr Wrigley should not have a further operation.
A post falls risk assessment was carried out and Mr Wrigley was moved closer to the main nurses' area. He was later transferred to a rehabilitation ward where he was provided with one-to-one assistance. Despite this, Mr Wrigley fell on a further two occasions whilst in hospital. Another CT scan was performed following the last fall which found a large acute on chronic subdural haemorrhage. He was subsequently transferred as an emergency to the Royal London Hospital and underwent two evacuation procedures to drain the haemorrhage.
Following this treatment, Mr Wrigley required 24-hour care. His wife and son were forced to close their care home to care for him during the day. At night, they had to hire two carers to look after him because he tended to become agitated and confused. Sadly, Mr Wrigley passed away just over a year after his discharge from hospital.
Mr Wrigley's family instructed Jonathan Zimmern to investigate a claim on their behalf. Jonathan instructed a nursing expert who was critical of the failure to perform falls risk assessments throughout Mr Wrigley's stay in hospital. She concluded that, had these assessments been performed, all three falls would have been avoided. Jonathan also instructed a Neurosurgeon who concluded that Mr Wrigley would have required further surgery for a recurrence of the subdural haematoma in any event. However, he would not have needed 24-hour care as early as he in fact did and he would have lived longer than he in fact did had he not suffered the falls and additional brain bleed in hospital, although he could not say by how much.
Jonathan wrote to the trust which denied liability. Following a lengthy fight, however, during which the trust denied that the falls caused any additional damage to Mr Wrigley, Jonathan was able to agree a settlement of £35,000 for Mr Wrigley's family.
Following the conclusion of the case, Mr Wrigley's son said:
"Thank you so much indeed for your help in this matter. I would recommend your services to anybody. Dealing with you has been a pleasure"
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Image credit:Secretlondon [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
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