Anthony P. DeMichele recently obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a hospital in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. The matter involved a patient who fell while undergoing physical therapy two days after a right total hip replacement. As a result of the fall, the patient fractured the right hip that had just been replaced and underwent another surgical procedure to repair the fracture. Of note, at the time of the original hip replacement, the patient was markedly disabled and required a live-in aide to help with activities of daily living.

At the time of the fall, the patient was ambulating with a walker while the physical therapist had her hands on the patient and an aide followed them closely with a wheelchair. Plaintiff alleged that both the physical therapist and the wheelchair follow were not positioned correctly. The defense argued that the physical therapist had hands on the patient and was in the correct position when the patient fell. The defense also argued that the wheelchair follow was positioned correctly within inches of the patient and that the fall was an unfortunate accident. The defense presented experts in physical therapy and orthopedic surgery, who confirmed that the care was within the standard of care and that the patient’s current limitations were not a result of the fall and fracture.

After deliberating, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the hospital, finding that its care and treatment of the patient was not negligent.