Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession (5)7 Jul 97

 

   Quick Summary:  A healthcare facility can be ruled negligent in a civil lawsuit if a visitor is injured in a slip-and-fall due to liquid spilled on the floor.

   A nurse responded at once when a family member came to the nurses’ station and reported a visitor had just fallen on a puddle of juice near the elevator.

   The nurse took the report at face value and went to assist the visitor, bringing a towel to wipe up the juice so no one else would fall.

  A visitor had indeed fallen. The nurse inspected the area carefully and did not find any liquid on the floor. The hospital was ruled not liable, as there was no proof of a foreign substance on the floor to implicate the hospital for negligence. COURT OF APPEAL OF LOUISIANA, 1997.

      In a recent case handed down by the Court of Appeal of Louisiana, a hospital was ruled not liable, based on the testimony of the nurse who was the first to respond to a report that a visitor had fallen on a puddle of juice spilled on the floor just outside the elevator. It was just after the dinner cart had been brought to the floor via the elevator. The nurse knew she had to go to the visitor’s assistance at once, and assumed the report was correct about juice spilled on the floor. She grabbed a towel to wipe up the spill so no one else would fall.

   In carefully inspecting the area, however, the nurse found no liquid spilled on the floor. It was implicit from the court record that a notation of the nurse’s observations had been entered into the hospital’s internal incident report to assist the nurse with her testimony later in court. Holden vs. Louisiana State University Medical Center, 690 So. 2d 958 (La. App., 1997).