Nursing Home Patient Allowed To Fall, Suffers Fracture; Nursing Home Settles

A 90-year-old patient was admitted to a nursing home on July 19, 2013. At all times relevant, the patient was known by the nursing home to be a high fall risk due to a medical history that included a recent CVA, polio with right-sided weakness and right arm paralysis, dementia, confusion, disorientation, impaired decision making, impulsivity, the need for assistance with mobility and activities of daily living, and decreased functional mobility, strength, endurance, activity tolerance, balance, safety awareness, cognition, awareness of environment, and insight into her own deficits, among other conditions and limitations.

On July 19, 2013, within hours of her admission to the nursing home, the patient was permitted by the nursing home’s staff to rise, stand, walk across her bedroom, and reach the restroom, where she fell to the floor, without any supervision, assistance, or even a glimmer of recognition from the nursing home’s staff. The nursing home did not otherwise attempt to respond or intervene to prevent the fall before it occurred. 

On July 21, 2013, the patient was again permitted by the nursing home’s staff to rise, stand, walk across her bedroom, and walk down the hall before the nursing home staff attempted to respond to prevent a fall from occurring. Unfortunately, before the nursing home’s staff intervened, the patient, while walking unassisted in the hallway, lost her balance and fell to the floor.

On July 31, 2013, the patient’s physical therapist documented a noticeable decline in the patient’s awareness and her right lower extremity. The same day, the patient’s occupational therapist documented that the patient was “difficult to arouse, as if ‘drugged,’” and unable to sit on the edge of the bed or continue therapy. That evening, the patient was noted to have increased right-sided weakness and flaccidity.

On August 5, 2013, the patient was admitted to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a comminuted midshaft right humerus fracture and a new CVA. She also had a UTI and was severely dehydrated. The patient was not a surgical candidate, and her shoulder was placed in a sling.  The patient’s condition continued to deteriorate, and she died on August 18, 2013.

The family contacted us to pursue claims against the nursing home for failing to provide proper fall prevention and treatment for injuries suffered from the fall. We were able to obtain a settlement award for the patient’s family.