Patient Requiring 1:1 Supervision, Slips In Coffee, Suffers Fracture, Nursing Home Settles

A 77-year-old female was admitted to a nursing home on August 7, 2012.  At all times relevant, the nursing home staff knew the patient was a high fall risk based on a medical history that included Alzheimer’s dementia, confusion, agitation, impaired fine and gross motion coordination, impaired safety awareness, wandering, exit-seeking behavior, cognitive deficits, the use of narcotic pain medications, and decreases in strength, functional mobility, transfers, range of motion, functional activity tolerance, balance, coordination, and ADL participation, among other conditions and limitations.  The patient was high enough a fall risk the nursing home initiated 1:1 fall precautions for her. 

At 2:30 a.m. on August 21, 2012, the nursing home staff allowed the patient to fall but failed to document the particulars of the fall.  At 2:00 p.m. the same day, the nursing home staff again allowed the patient to fall.  In connection with 2:00 p.m. fall, the patient stood from a chair, slipped in coffee that had been spilled on the tile floor, and fell onto her shoulder.  As a result of the fall, the patient’s left shoulder appeared deformed and uneven, and she was observed to be in pain.

The patient was transported to the hospital, where x-rays revealed she sustained a complete fracture of the left humeral head with significant displacement.  On August 21, 2012, the patient required open reduction internal fixation to repair her broken shoulder.  

As a result of the fall and fall-related injuries, the patient became less mobile and more dependent with activities of daily living and required physical and occupational therapy and narcotic pain medications, including Lortab and Percocet.  In October 2012, the patient was still experiencing significant pain and stiffness at the fracture site.  On October 29, 2012, she required surgery to remove the hardware from her August 2012 shoulder surgery. 

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.