A Florida jury hit Tallahassee hospital Capital Regional Medical Center with a $1.1 million verdict after finding the hospital negligent and at fault for a visitor falling in their facility while visiting a patient.
According to a statement from law from Morgan and Morgan, who represented the victim, the jury ruled that Capital Regional Medical Center was negligent in causing the 2016 slip and fall of 47-year-old Stephanie Kemp. The $1.1 million award is compensation for the "permanent and severe injuries" Kemp suffered when she fell outside a utility room on the hospital's fourth floor while visiting a friend.
Despite a hospital policy that staff were not to drag bags of soiled linens on the floor, surveillance video showed an employee doing so, causing the floor to be wet prior to the victim falling. Kemp shattered her left knee cap and needed surgery, the firm said.
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At the time of publishing, requests for comment from Capital Regional Medical Center had not been answered.
Kemp needed multiple surgeries and extensive recovery, incurring more than $100,000 in medical bills. She will deal with some level of knee pain permanently.
The verdict makes the case that hospitals can't only be occupied with healing patients, but being mindful that providing a safe environment for patients and visitors is an obligation as an institution of healing and also in their best interest. Increased oversight of staff behavior and habits is clearly essential in any healthcare facility, but especially when it comes to policies and procedures that protect the health and safety of everyone in the building, be they staff or visitors.
The case and its outcome is a cautionary tale for all providers that adherence to safety policies and procedures should be strictly observed and enforced, no matter how small the individual action might be.
The firm said Capital Regional Medical Center initially denied Kemp's claim and blamed the incident on her wearing flip flops. While some providers and public reports have said flip flops pose some dangers to wearers, those issues are more related to posture, foot, knee and back pain that can result from the frequently-thin construction of the footwear. At trial, evidence was presented showing the floor was wet on the surveillance video. The jury found the hospital 100 percent at fault, the firm said.
ON THE RECORD
"We are of course pleased with the jury's verdict," said Kemp's attorney Tyler Everett. "I think that it's clear the jury found that Ms. Kemp's injuries were wholly preventable had the hospital only followed its own rules."
Again, at the time of publishing, requests for comment from Capital Regional Medical Center had not been answered.
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