Architecture expert witness advises on hospital design defect

ByKristin Casler


Updated on September 28, 2017

Architecture expert witness advises on hospital design defect

Forensic architecture expert witness advises on a case involving an injured man who became lost in a hospital. The victim went to the defendant hospital’s emergency area. Because the emergency department was not clearly visible to him, he went down the wrong hallway and encountered locked doors. While attempting to return to the correct area, he collapsed and struck his head. He was discovered by a passerby.

The fall resulted in disabling injuries that rendered him immobile in a bed or wheelchair. He died less than a year later. His survivor filed a claim for wrongful death against the hospital and the architect who designed the emergency department renovations.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

1. Was the architect professionally negligent in renovating the emergency department?

2. What regulations were violated?

3. Was the hospital also negligent?

Expert Witness Response

inline imageThe defendant architects lacked the experience and training to work on this type of project. The lead architect had only worked on two prior emergency department projects, did not consider himself a specialist and did not know what the Facilities Guideline Institute's “Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospital and Healthcare Facilities” (FGI Guidelines) were. The FGI Guidelines represent the minimum standards for planning and designing healthcare facilities.

inline imageState building code requires the emergency department lobby to have a reception and control area. The defendant’s design removed the existing security desk - the control area - from the lobby, leaving the lobby empty. Furthermore, the defendant also expanded the lobby area in such a way that the natural flow of the lobby would send people looking for the emergency department down the corridor away from the ED. This design violated FGI guidelines. The defendant’s failure to warn the hospital of the violations breached the professional standard of care.

inline imageThe hospital also was negligent in failing to hire an architect that specialized in the design of emergency departments and in removing the security desk from the emergency entrance lobby.

inline imageThe expert is an architect who works primarily with hospitals and emergency departments, working on hundreds of projects over the course of more than 50 years.

About the author

Kristin Casler

Kristin Casler

Kristin Casler is a seasoned legal writer and journalist with an extensive background in litigation news coverage. For 17 years, she served as the editor for LexisNexis Mealey’s litigation news monitor, a role that positioned her at the forefront of reporting on pivotal legal developments. Her expertise includes covering cases related to the Supreme Court's expert admissibility ruling in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc., a critical area in both civil and criminal litigation concerning the challenges of 'junk science' testimony.

Kristin's work primarily involves reporting on a diverse range of legal subjects, with particular emphasis on cases in asbestos litigation, insurance, personal injury, antitrust, mortgage lending, and testimony issues in conviction cases. Her contributions as a journalist have been instrumental in providing in-depth, informed analysis on the evolving landscape of these complex legal areas. Her ability to dissect and communicate intricate legal proceedings and rulings makes her a valuable resource in the legal journalism field.

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