Nursing Home Patient Left Alone, Falls and Fractures Hip; Nursing Home Settles
A female nursing home patient was permitted to fall when she was left alone in her bathroom without any supervision. As an immediate result of the fall, she sustained pain during transfer from floor to wheelchair and from wheelchair to bed, facial grimacing on movement, and external rotation of the left hip and leg. The patient was later diagnosed at a local hospital with a comminuted fracture of the left femur with angulation. She was also noted to have moderate to severe pain, which required multiple administrations of morphine. She was transferred to another hospital for more aggressive orthopaedic care.
At the second hospital, the patient was noted to have “leg pain whenever she moves” and the site of the fracture was painful. The hospital described her as experiencing “marked pain with any attempt at mobilization.” The patient received closed reduction and intramedullary internal fixation of the left hip in a surgical procedure performed at the second hospital. Following surgery, she was transfused with multiple units of packed red blood cells due to post-operative blood loss anemia. Unfortunately, the transfused donor blood was contaminated with bacteria that caused the patient to experience post-operative fever in a “transfusion like reaction,” which itself required the patient to receive IV antibiotics.
The patient was discharged from the second hospital to a separate nursing home. While at the separate nursing home, the patient continued to experience severe pain as a result of the fracture. Due to fracture-related pain, the patient was noted by nursing home staff to be in tears when staff attempted to assist her physically with activities of daily living. She continued to experience pain daily thereafter, especially over the site of the fracture.
Within one month after the fall and fracture, the patient was placed on comfort care by her family. While on comfort care, the patient began to experience cognitive decline and dementia that was complicated by the left hip fracture. She became increasingly dehydrated, disinterested in eating, and relayed to her family that she was “very tired and exhausted” and “ready to die and go to heaven.” The patient died several months later.
The nursing home settled before trial for a confidential amount in the mid-six figures.
Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.
Posted on Mon, July 25, 2011
by Kristie Pierce