Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Nursing Home Horror Story

In this blog, there are many posts relating to the hazards that can be found within nursing home settings.  Additionally, the topics of abuse and negligence, as well as understaffing, have also been discussed.  To put this in perspective, the following is a real case involving a claim against a nursing home within the last year.

An elderly woman was admitted to a nursing home in early fall of 2009.  Upon arrival, the staff assessed her as a high risk for injury and/or falling.  This was recorded in her individualized care plan.  She was also assessed by the nursing home as needing two persons at all times to use the bathroom, and for transfers and overall bed mobility.  About a month after her admittance, this woman had a new low air loss mattress  (for use for bed sores)  installed in her room, replacing the bariatric pressure redistribution mattress she had previously used.  This new mattress was neither recommended by a doctor (since the woman had no bed sores) nor properly installed.

Around this same time, there was a re-assessment of the woman's care plan, which did not account for or acknowledge her pronounced declining condition.  It also did not mention her recent stroke, cognitive impairment, left-sided hemiplegia, or new air loss mattress (and associated bed rails and risks). 

A few days after this re-assessment of care plan, the woman was found unconscious in her room with her head and neck stuck in the rails of the improperly installed bed.  Her lips were blue and she had no vital signs.  A nurse and another person removed her from the rails and called an ambulance.  The nursing home failed to inform both the emergency responders and hospital about how the woman became injured.  The woman died at the hospital and the hospital listed her causes of death as pneumonia and CVA.  The cause of death was also listed as natural. 

The doctor who signed the death certificate was not made aware of the circumstances surrounding the woman's death until after signing the certificate.  Additionally, the woman's son was not informed by the nursing home of the nature of his mother's injury and ultimate cause of death. In fact, the nursing home lied and told her son that the woman died of natural causes.

This atrocious case is just one of many that attorneys across the country come across in their practice.  Nursing homes can be dangerous places if not properly run and staffed.  If you suspect that you or a loved one is in a nursing home and is not receiving proper or appropriate care, it may be time to consult with an attorney.  Attorney Doug Stoehr is a central Pennsylvania lawyer specializing in nursing home abuse and negligence.  For more information on his practice, please visit our website.


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