Nurses Ignore Resident's Emergency Alarm for Four Hours While Resident Dies

Employees at an independent living complex equipped with emergency alarms ignored the emergency alarm set off in an apartment at the complex for four hours as the resident bled to death, according to a lawsuit filed this week. The complaint also said one nurse was notified of the alarm while she was watching TV and instead of following up, she went back to watching TV.

The resident  lived in the 101-unit independent living building that is part of a larger complex, which also has assisted-living units and a nursing home. The patient's residence had a cord to pull to summon help in emergencies. According to the lawsuit, the resident pulled hers at 12:25 a.m. on Feb. 15. Unfortunately, a nursing supervisor and a nursing assistant did not arrive at the apartment until 4:34 a.m., at which time they found her dead in her bathroom.

The medical examiner's office found that she'd experienced a cut in a varicose vein and had died of loss of blood. A police report also indicates she'd had prior incidents of where she experienced bleeding. According to the police report and the lawsuit, the alarm, when pulled sent out an audible and visual alarm. Another resident also called and spoke with a nurse to report the alarm. The sound of the alarm was turned off, but the resident was not immediately check on. The suit also said the facility was short-staffed that night.

After the woman's death, the complex changed the procedure for independent living residents to report emergencies. Now, according to facility and police, when residents pull the cord to signal an emergency, it goes straight to a private alarm company, which notifies the county emergency dispatchers, who dispatch firefighters to the complex. For more, read the story.


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.

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