Nursing injury: Patient bed rails & vigiliance

Downes v Affinity Health Pty Ltd [2016] QCA 129 was an appeal in relation to a claim by a nurse for injury, following a post operative care incident.

The trial judge had found that there was no breach of duty in not providing the patient with a bed with full length cot rails such that she would never have been able to climb out of bed, resulting in the applicant having to lift her back into bed and damaging her back.

However the trial judge found that there was a breach of duty on the part of the hospital for its omission to ensure that information specific to the patient was brought to the attention of nursing staff. This arose from the patient’s history of post-anaesthetic hallucinations and likely difficulty walking, post operatively.

The trial judge had rejected the asserted  causal link between the negligence and the injury.  If the need for heightened vigilance had been brought to the claimants’ attention, she would not have done anything materially different.

The appeal was dismissed.

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