Patient Dies from Fall; Central Virginia Nursing Home Settles

A nursing home patient was allowed by the facility’s aide to fall during a transfer from bed to chair.  At the time of the fall, the patient was known by the nursing home to be a high fall risk based on her age, confused mental status, visual impairment, balance problems, use of assistive devices, level of continence, and use of diuretics. The nursing home assessed the resident after the fall and did not detect any injury.  The patient complained of hip pain later in the day, but did not receive an x-ray of her hip, was not evaluated by a physician, and was not transferred to a hospital for examination until two and one-half days after the fall.  When the patient arrived at the hospital, she was “moribund,” unresponsive, and “not arousable.”  The hospital diagnosed her with a right hip fracture, as well as severe malnutrition, dehydration with possible urosepsis, hyperglycemia (“diabetes is out of control”), and renal failure.  The patient's medical condition was so poor that the hospital’s forensic nurse examiner was contacted to investigate suspected elder neglect.  The patient died six days after the fall.  The patient was survived by her only son, who claimed the facility should have used better fall prevention measures.  The case against the nursing home and its owners settled for mid six figures.
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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.