Nursing Home Sued After Patient Falls Five Times, Shatters Hip

A lawsuit was filed against a nursing home following a 83-year-old resident's hip fracture at the home, leaving her permanently immobile.

According to her attorney, the resident was admitted to the nursing home on Dec. 29, 2006, after living in an assisted living facility. Her daughters made the decision to move her to the nursing home as her dementia progressed.

When she was admitted, she was assessed as being at-risk for falls. Despite her known risk for falls, the nursing home allegedly allowed her to fall five times from February through August 2007, the attorney said.

One fall resulted in her being transferred to a hospital for X-rays for five days, which revealed her left hip was shattered. She was also diagnosed with pneumonia.

Soon after, the resident had extensive surgery to repair her hip. After leaving the hospital, her family did not take her back to the nursing home.

"[The resident's] family trusted [the nursing home] to care for her, but the home was negligent on a number of levels," the attorney said. "The nursing home failed to properly assess [the resident's] risk for falls or protect her from falling. After allowing her to fall, the home did not respond to her complaints of pain or transfer her to the hospital in a timely fashion." For more, read the story.

This case illustrates an all-too-familiar pattern of nursing home conduct. Patients are not protected from falls adequately, even when they are noted to be high fall risks. Equipment such as personal fall alarms can help monitor a patient’s activities, but does not eliminate the need for adequate supervision. Adequate supervision must be based on the individual patient’s needs and the hazards of the patient’s environment. A nursing home or assisted living facility has the responsibility to ensure the safest environment possible for its patient. Specifically, a nursing home or assisted living facility must provide an environment free from accidents and hazards over which the nursing home or assisted living facility has control and provide proper supervision and assistive devices to prevent avoidable accidents, including falls.

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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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