Patient Falls, Suffers Bilateral Leg Fractures and Dies, Nursing Home Settles

A 74-year-old patient was admitted to a nursing home’s care on January 12, 2008. The patient was nonverbal, had lower extremity weakness due to a previous stroke, and was non-ambulatory. The patient was totally dependent on the nursing home facility for ambulation.

On June 8, 2008, the patient was documented as being agitated and “climbing OOB (out of bed).” The physician was notified and an order for Ativan was obtained. On June 13, 2008, the nursing home allowed the patient to fall. As a result of the fall, the patient’s left leg was not properly aligned, appeared “disjointed,” and could not be moved. The patient was taken to the hospital and diagnosed there with bilateral femur fractures.

On June 14, 2008, the patient had surgical repair of the bilateral leg fractures. She was transferred back to the nursing home’s care on June 18, 2008. Thereafter, she was noted to have rapid, shallow respirations and was diaphoretic, staff was unable to obtain her blood pressure, and she was observed to be staring with non-reactive pupils. The patient was provided CPR, but she died on June 18, 2008, a mere four days after the fall.

The family contacted us to pursue claims against the nursing home for failing to provide proper fall prevention. We were able to obtain a respectable award for the patient’s family through mediation.