Nursing Home Patient Falls Multiple Times, Suffers Fractures, Nursing Home Settles

A 74-year-old male patient was admitted to a nursing home on September 1, 2011. At the time of admission and at all times thereafter, the patient was a high fall risk. The patient's family expressed concerns to the nursing home staff about the patient’s safety as a high fall risk, needing vigilant supervision, to which the nursing home staff responded by assuring the patient’s family he would be protected from falls and that all fall interventions would be used with him.

On September 1, 2011, within hours of admission, the patient was permitted by the nursing home’s staff to fall, leaving his left wrist swollen and in pain. The patient was sent by ambulance to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with comminuted fractures of the distal left radius and ulna with obvious deformity. The nursing home staff admitted to the patient’s family that his fall on September 1, 2011 was caused by their negligence. Specifically, the nursing home staff stated the fall "was our fault, and we could have missed something in the records about his fall risks.” The nursing home assured the patient’s family that all appropriate fall prevention measures, including adequate supervision, would be used with the patient to prevent additional falls. However, the patient was permitted at the nursing home facility to fall on multiple occasions after September 1, 2011. As a result of one or more of these falls, the patient complained of right lower extremity pain. The patient advised nursing home staff that his pain was so bad "he does not think he is going to make it another day.

On October 4, 2011, the patient complained of right knee pain, right back pain, right hip pain, as well as pain extending into his right groin. The patient had also demonstrated external rotation of his right leg, which was documented to be “quite concerning for a fracture," and right knee edema. At that time, an x-ray was finally requested by the nursing home.

Finally, on October 5, 2011, the patient was sent to the hospital and received additional x-rays of the right hip that revealed a subcapital fracture through the right femoral neck, displacement of the femoral shaft, and comminution of the fractures. The patient’s left wrist was also x-rayed. Those x-rays revealed a comminuted fracture of the distal radius, peripheral displacement and anterior angulation of fracture fragments, a fracture of the distal ulna, and widening of injured ligaments. The patient required surgery on October 5, 2011 to repair the right hip fracture and, following recovery and discharge from the hospital, he was transferred to a separate skilled nursing facility.

As a result of the injuries sustained while under the defendants’ care, the patient experienced severe pain and decline in cognition, communication, ambulation, balance, mobility, function, and in his medical condition generally. The patient’s injuries prevented him from successfully bearing weight on the areas affected by those injuries and prevented him from receiving the therapy he needed and for which he was admitted to the nursing home. In addition, as a result of these injuries, the patient developed serious pressure ulcers over his sacrum and buttocks, among other locations, which themselves required the continued placement and use of a foley catheter for “wound healing.” The patient’s continued foley use, superimposed over his chronic UTIs, permitted a terminal UTI to develop, prevented the UTI from improving, and caused and permitted the UTI to deteriorate into urosepsis. The patient died on January 7, 2012.

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