Nursing Home Allows Patient to Fall During Care & Sustain Fractures; Nursing Home Settles

An elderly, immobile nursing home patient was allowed to fall from her bed to the floor while being repositioned during incontinence care. The nursing home aide responsible for the fall turned the patient away from her to the opposite side of the bed, left the patient on her left side, and required the patient, who had sustained a stroke with right-sided compromise, to use her right hand to hold onto the repositioning bar/rail of the bed for safety. The aide then turned away from the patient, and the patient fell from her bed to the floor.

After the fall, the patient complained of pain to her right arm and right leg. When ambulance attendants arrived at the nursing home after the fall, the patient told the ambulance staff that she did not want to return to the nursing home because the facility did not take care of her. The patient was transferred to a local hospital, where she was diagnosed with a right shoulder fracture and a right femur fracture. The patient was not a surgical candidate, so the fracture was treated conservatively. The patient’s right arm was placed in a sling and her right leg was placed in a leg immobilizer.

The immobilizer, which was required to stabilize the fracture, caused pressure around the lower leg and caused Right Arm and Leg Fracturesa Stage IV pressure ulcer to develop several weeks after the fall and fractures. The pressure ulcer (bed sore, pressure sore, decubitus ulcer) was documented to be unstageable with purulent green foul smelling drainage. Within a couple of weeks thereafter, the pressure ulcer (bed sore, pressure sore, decubitus ulcer) was noted to involve exposed tendon and bone in the right leg. The pressure ulcer (bed sore, pressure sore, decubitus ulcer) required sharp debridement and was the source of significant pain. The patient later developed sepsis and bacteremia from infection of the right lower leg pressure ulcer (bed sore, pressure sore, decubitus ulcer). The patient died a little over three months after the fall. The patient’s family sued the nursing home for failing to provide proper fall prevention. The nursing home settled for a confidential amount of money in the mid-six figures.

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