St. Elizabeth's sued over patient's fall in shower

By Kelly Holleran | Jun 3, 2013

A woman has filed suit against the hospital where she claims she fell as she was attempting to exit the shower.

Betty V. Voegele alleges she had been given a shower with antibacterial soap by defendant St. Elizabeth’s Hospital’s nursing staff on May 16, 2011, at about 9 p.m. However, she was left unattended in the shower and no one came to assist her when she was finished, according to the complaint filed May 10 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

“After significant time with no assistance and no way to get assistance, plaintiff attempted to exit the shower on her own,” the suit states. “However, as she attempted to exit the shower, she slipped and fell, breaking her left femur, left ankle and injuring her head.”

Following her tumble, Voegele was provided a wrist band alert, indicating she was a fall risk. Voegele, though, contends she should have been categorized as a fall risk upon her arrival at the hospital due to her physical condition, her medical history and the medications she was ingesting.

Because of her fall, Voegele was forced to endure additional surgeries, such as a left knee arthroplasty revision with distal femoral replacement, which was performed on June 9, 2011, the complaint says. She also claims she suffered from physical and mental disability, endured prolonged and recurrent institutionalizations, experienced a worsening of her overall medical condition, faces a lowered anticipated life expectancy, lost her enjoyment of life and incurred significant medical costs.

Voegele alleges vicarious liability and premises negligence against St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, saying it failed to ensure that her condition was properly monitored, failed to ensure that she was provided with appropriate medical care, failed to take adequate precautions in light of Voegele’s confused state, failed to institute appropriate policies regarding the assessment of Voegele as a fall risk and failed to ensure that staff would be available to assess Voegele’s condition, among other negligent actions.

In her complaint, Voegele is seeking a judgment of more than $150,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

She will be represented by Robert J. Evola of St. Louis.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 13-L-252.

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