Patient Suffers Multiple Painful Fractures Due To Falls, Becomes Immobile, Nursing Home Settles

A 91-year-old female patient was admitted to a nursing home on October 8, 2010.  At all times relevant to her care there, the patient was known by the nursing home to be a high fall risk.  Following a fall in the shower during a transfer at the nursing home on February 1, 2011, a fall from a wheelchair at the nursing home on February 14, 2011, and an incident at the nursing home on February 15, 2011 in which staff improperly lifted the patient under her arms, she required a mechanical lift with two nursing home staff for all transfers.

As a result of the fall, the patient sustained a displaced, angulated right distal femur fracture and possible rib fractures.  The patient was evaluated for surgical treatment of the fractures, but she was treated nonoperatively.  She was returned to the nursing home with a knee immobilizer, a foley catheter, and orders for physical therapy. 

As a result of pressure/friction caused by the knee immobilizer, the patient developed a pressure ulcer on her right upper thigh.  She also developed a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the right leg and, despite a history of diverticular bleed, was started on a blood thinner.  She also developed a sacral pressure ulcer due to immobility and shearing caused by the right leg fracture. 

On November 14, 2011 while at the nursing home, the patient was noted to have a great deal of pain when she was turned and repositioned.  She received x-rays, which revealed a new comminuted left distal femur fracture.  The x-rays also confirmed that the right femur fracture remained significantly displaced.  The patient was treated with an immobilizer for the new left leg fracture.

On November 18, 2011, while the patient was at the nursing home, her right knee became dislocated during repositioning and was noted to be swollen and bruised.  As a result, the patient was ordered to remain immobile with bed rest and bed baths only.  On November 22, 2011, she received a soft knee orthosis to provide stability and promote range of motion to the right leg. 

On December 20, 2011, the patient’s right femur was noted to be “dislodged.”  The right femur bone protruded to the right of the knee and caused pressure from the inside of her right leg.   The patient was admitted to hospice on December 23, 2011. 

In addition, the patient developed numerous UTIs due to immobility and foley use that was made necessary by the leg fractures.  She died on January 1, 2013.

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.