Auckland woman, 79, dies after fall from hospital bed

By 1news.co.nz and is republished with permission

An Auckland family is demanding more information about the death of their 79-year-old mother who fell from her bed at North Shore Hospital in late February and died 10 days later.

Angelica Baumann (Source: Supplied)

Doctors had told Angelica Baumann’s family that she would be home in time for her 80th birthday at the beginning of March.

She’d spent a week in hospital after undergoing surgery to remove gallstones and family say her recovery was going well.

But her daughter, also named Angelica, received a distressing call from the hospital the day before she expected her mum to be discharged.

“I had a call that my mum just fell off the bed,” Angelica explained. “There was nothing else. I talked to the doctor at that moment and said ‘What happened? How?'”

She raced to the hospital to find her mother on the floor and slumped against the wall.

Angelica said no one explained how her mother had fallen out of bed or exactly what had happened.

“I only know I left my mother there on the bed. When I come back, my mother is on the floor … in the corner,” Angelica said.

She said ward staff told her they were going to help her mum.

“Right in that moment my mother was in shock and needed, of course, moving from the floor to the bed,” Angelica said. “They didn’t tell me how my mum got on the floor, how she fell off the bed.”

It was the start of a difficult week for the Baumann family who say they were never told how their much loved mother and grandmother fell onto the floor.

Te Whatu Ora – Waitematā said it has clinical notes documenting at least 15 meetings over six days with Baumann family members from the time of the fall.

The day after the fall the family were told Baumann required surgery for a broken hip and leg. The family was warned she might not survive.

Two days after surgery, Angelica said the family was told her mother needed palliative care. She died a week later.

Angelica Baumann would have celebrated her 80th birthday on March 2.
Angelica Baumann would have celebrated her 80th birthday on March 2. (Source: Supplied)

Angelica said she asked one of the doctors what the likely scenario would have been if her mother hadn’t fallen from her bed.

She said the doctor replied: “You want me to be honest? She can live. She has a chance to live.”

The grieving daughter said: “So my mum died from the fall in North Shore Hospital.”

General Practice New Zealand chairman Dr Bryan Betty said patient falls in hospitals are not common, but potentially very dangerous for the elderly.

“They’re very serious in terms of the impact on the patient and the outcome, so potentially a very, very important issue,” Betty said. “Particularly though head injury and fractures to the neck of femur.”

Data released by Te Whatu Ora – Waitematā for 13 months to February 29, 2024 revealed seven falls from beds resulting in major harm.

North Shore Hospital has 695 beds — the largest in Waitematā. A total of 82,358 patients presented at North Shore Hospital’s Emergency Department in the same period.

Angelica believes a faulty safety rail on her mother’s bed could be to blame for the fall.

She said she told a nurse on the ward she was concerned earlier on the same day her mother fell.

“I told her, ‘Look my mum’s bed is not right.'”

She said the nurse replied: “I’m going to be here, around. No worries.”

“The safety of the patient and hospital should be the number one priority, especially for the elderly,” Betty said. “Steps should be taken to ensure they are safe, that they don’t fall or potentially don’t fall out of bed.”

Te Whatu Ora – Waitematā said it is unable to comment as the matter is being fully investigated by the coroner.

In a statement, it said it has a strong focus on fall prevention and clear policies on the use of bed rails as they are considered a form of restraint.

All information will be evaluated by the coroner and some healthcare experts have told 1News it is common practice for documented discussions with family members to be included in the process.

The Baumann family now must wait for answers. Baumann would have celebrated her 80th birthday on March 2.

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