State Finds Nursing Home at Fault for the Fatal Fall of Wheelchair-Bound Resident

State health investigators have concluded that a nursing home is to blame for the death of a resident who rolled down a stairwell in her wheelchair last May and died. The report by the State Health Department said the woman died because the facility failed to change the resident's care plan after she had twice previously tried to open the door to same stairwell. She had also attempted to open the door just 30 minutes prior to the fall that lead to her death, according to the report.

The woman's plan of care, dated December 2008, indicated that she "needed assistance of staff to avoid potentially dangerous situations," the report said. The woman, who suffered from anxiety, depression and other behavioral problems, had a history of wandering around the facility and trying to open doors. A few weeks before the fatal fall, an employee saw the resident inside the stairwell and pulled her out. The employee reported the incident to a registered nurse on staff.

On the day of the fall, the resident was found on the concrete stairwell landing, face-down and still strapped into her wheelchair. Efforts to resuscitate her by staff members and paramedics failed. 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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