Articles Posted in Nursing Home Falls

Residents of Valley Center with elderly loved ones in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities should pay close attention to a recent case concerning the death of a patient at a Northern California facility. According to an article in the Napa Valley Register, a lawsuit alleges that a 91-year-old patient at the Golden LivingCenter died as a result of nursing home neglect. The lawsuit contends that nursing home negligence led the patient, Jeanne Roney, to “suffer multiple falls and injuries including scabies, a urinary tract infection, and malnutrition.” Nine days after a scabies diagnosis, the patient died.

The patient’s family alleges that the facility failed to provide a sufficient number of staff, and that it also failed to properly train the staff members that it did have. Due to such negligence, the family argues that Roney sustained fatal injuries. How is this claim likely to play out? What is required for a successful nursing home negligence lawsuit in Valley Center, California?

Details of the Recent Allegations Against Golden LivingCenter

ydigmrc7xsc-christopher-300x225Has an elderly loved one mentioned a fall-related injury in a nursing home or assisted-living facility in San Diego County? Or, have you learned that an elderly parent suffered a fall while under the care of a nursing home staff? Falls often result from nursing home neglect, and it is important to ensure that our elderly loved ones are safe from preventable accidents and injuries. According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, fall-related injuries are becoming a more serious concern in California and throughout the country. One researcher in particular, Jon Pynoos, emphasizes that falls really are preventable. What should you know about falls among the elderly and learning about new methods of prevention?

Paying Greater Attention to Falls Among the Elderly

As the article notes, about “one-third of seniors over 65 fall each year, causing more than 2.5 million injuries treated in ERs, leading to 734,000 hospitalization and more than 30,200 deaths, with an annual price tag exceeding $40 billion.” Those rates will only increase as the U.S. population continues to age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC estimates that deaths from falls among the elderly will rise to around 100,000 per year—a number that is four times the current rate of fall-related fatalities. Given these numbers, both government and private funding sources to study fall prevention have helped to make new research possible.

Q2191986_noun_108043_ccNicolasVicent_elderly.svgWhen you have a loved one residing in a San Diego nursing home, it is extremely important to think about how the facility is managing fall risks. According to a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of seniors suffer injuries from falls each year, and about 25% of the elderly population will fall in any given year. As the CDC points out, about 20% of those falls among seniors result in serious injuries such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or broken bones. More than 800,000 older adults require hospitalization because of a fall-related injury each year, and around 300,000 seniors need to be hospitalized specifically because of a hip fracture. All in all, approximately 2.8 million elderly adults are treated in emergency departments each year due to falls. Of those seniors who get hurt, about 1,800 die as a result of their injuries.

Since falls are so common among older adults, and given that they often result in serious injuries, what should nursing homes do to help prevent falls from happening? If nursing facilities in San Diego do not take proper precautions when it comes to fall prevention, can they be liable for nursing home neglect?

Nursing Home Falls Occur in Many Different Contexts

For elderly adults who live on their own or in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, falls can result in serious and life-threatening injuries. While falls are not the result of elder abuse, they can occur when there is a clear issue of nursing home neglect. A recent article in the New York Times emphasized that the number of reported falls among older adults—many of those accidents leading to serious and sometimes fatal injuries—is a number that is “soaring.”

Nursing Home Regulations file000289604980Aimed at Preventing Falls

How can nursing homes take steps to prevent dangerous falls? The New York Times article discusses the policies put in place recently by a retirement community which require that, during mealtimes, residents who use walkers to get around must have their walkers “valet parked” after they find a seat at the table. In addition, they are not permitted to use their walkers during the meal—they must stay in their seats while staff members serve them. While many residents of the facility argued that the policy “infringed on [one’s] freedom of movement,” it prevented a number of serious falls at the buffet.

Last month, the California Court of Appeals ordered a new trial in a Superior Court of Los Angeles County case that involved a nursing home fall. The case involved a 79-year-old resident, Samuel Nevarrez, who suffered from falls at San Marino Skilled Nursing and Wellness Centre, a facility in Pasadena. The patient passed away, and his wife became a party to the litigation. At trial, a jury awarded Nevarrez $4 million in damages in addition to attorneys’ fees. However, the Court of Appeals ordered a new trial, effectively denying Nevarrez the $4 million jury award.

The Court of Appeals made its decision based on evidence at trial that it decided was prejudicial to the nursing facility. The decision in this case could impact the compensation amount of jury verdicts for victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of abuse or neglect in a nursing facility, you may be eligible for compensation.

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Learning that a loved one has been harmed in a custodial setting due to neglect or abuse is a horror that hopefully most San Diego families will never have to face. But as California’s elderly population ages, the number of seniors living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities is sure to increase. When our San Diego nursing home abuse attorneys evaluate a case involving the custodial treatment of an elderly person, we investigate all issues that might suggest a pattern of neglect instead of what might initially appear to be a single negligent act. Doing so ensures that we obtain all the evidence necessary to make the best case possible. It also can help prevent similar occurrences at the same or other facilities, so that other families do not have to endure the pain of knowing that a loved one was harmed at a California nursing home. wheelchair%20back.jpg

Last week, a jury acknowledged the suffering that families endure when their loved ones are hurt at nursing homes. The jury awarded $8 million in damages to the estate of an elderly man who died shortly after his legs were broken when he was improperly transferred from a chair into his bed. The Courier-Journal reports that the man, who was in his mid-80s, was staying at a nonprofit nursing home.

After the man’s death, his estate hired a nursing home abuse lawyer to sue the negligent facility. The man’s injuries occurred because he was transferred without a lift and was moved by only one nursing assistant, in violation of the nursing home’s care plan, which required two assistants. Most qualified nursing homes maintain a “care plan” for each resident. Care plans should address falls, mobility, pain management, nutrition, bladder and bowels, among other things. Care plans should be updated on a regular basis to accommodate the changing needs of a patient and should be strictly followed. Failure to follow a care plan can lead to serious injury or death, and can be the basis of a San Diego elder neglect lawsuit.

Falls are a serious problem in California nursing homes and can have serious health consequences for elderly residents. The attorneys at the Walton Law Firm know that a nursing home with 100 beds will have approximately 200 falls a year, many of which will go unreported. Nursing facilities should prevent falls for their residents whenever possible. Serious falls in custodial settings can result in death or drastically alter the quality of living for California seniors.

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To prevent falls, nursing home residents should be evaluated for their fall risk when they are admitted, and that assessment should be updated as a resident’s condition changes. Caretakers should consider a resident’s medical conditions and other possible risk factors, such as a resident’s overall mobility or access to fall prevention devices such as bed or tab alarms.

According to a report at Petaluma360.com, a Petaluma woman has filed a California nursing home abuse lawsuit, alleging that her 80-year-old mother suffered from malnutrition, dehydration, and infection that resulted in hospitalization due to nursing home negligence, neglect, and misrepresentation. The woman claims that her mother sustained several injuries, including a broken hip, while receiving home care from Accentcare Home Health of California, Inc.

Nursing home falls can occur for a number of reasons such as inadequate fall risk assessment upon admission, inadequate staffing, and/or inadequate supervision. The Petaluma lawsuit alleges that the senior fell while at home because home health care workers left her unattended even though they knew she suffered from dementia and was at risk for falls. Improper monitoring is a common mistake that caretakers in nursing home facilities make. As our attorneys know, those facilities must make provisions for adequate staffing in order to prevent dangerous falls which includes noting the residents that require close observation.

After her fall, the senior in this case lived at Petaluma Health and Rehabilitation where she was to receive more intensive care. While living there, however, the elderly woman was allegedly denied appropriate care and treatment that included food, hydration, wound care, monitoring, and assessment. As a result, she was hospitalized for malnutrition, dehydration, and serious infections. The elderly woman is now in hospice care.

The allegations against the Petaluma Health and Rehabilitation include failure to provide an adequate number of qualified staff to carry out all functions at the facility. The family of the injured woman claims that an employee misrepresented the quality of care that their mother would receive at the facility, namely that their mother would receive the care and services of specialists and staff that did not exist at the facility.

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The County of San Diego has agreed to pay $2 million to the family of Alton Stovall Sr., who died in the county-run skilled nursing facility Edgemoor Hospital. The payment was the result of a lawsuit brought against the facility for the neglect of Stovall, who died under very suspicious circumstances (to say the least).

According to news accounts, in the early hours of May 30, 2010 the 50-year-old Stovall, who had a preexisting leg wound, fell out of his bed and on to the floor. His leg began to bleed profusely while on the floor, but he could not reach his call light. His roommates were alerted by his fall, and began using their own call lights to summon help. The nurses on duty did not respond. A half-hour later, a nursing assistant entered Stovall’s room and found him on the floor in a pool of blood and with labored and erratic breathing.

Even after being discovered, Stovall did not receive appropriate care. It was nearly 15 minutes later that the nursing assistant called a supervisor, who, after assessing the situation, told the nursing home staff to call 911. When medics arrived an hour-and-a-half after Stovall’s fall from bed, it was too late. He died minutes before they arrived.

The Stovall family hired attorney William Berman to investigate and prosecute a civil lawsuit against the County of San Diego for Stovall’s death. Berman’s investigation revealed a cover-up at the facility, which no doubt contributed heavily to the County’s decision to pay such a large settlement.

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From the New York Times:

A study from the Archives of Internal Medicine found that elderly people who take narcotic-based drugs for pain face an elevate risk of bone fractures, heart attacks and death than those who take a non-narcotic pain reliever. In what is considered the first large-scale effort to examine the safety risks associated with narcotic pain relievers, researchers concluded that narcotics were more dangerous than non-narcotics, contrary to popular belief.

“Doctors should not assume that opioids are a safer alternative,” said Daniel H. Solomon, the study’s researcher, said in a telephone interview on Monday. “They seem to carry profound risks to cardiovascular system as well as increased risk fractures and appear to be associated with increased risk of death.”

The California Department of Public Health issued its most severe citation to a California nursing home following the death of a 97-year-old resident. According to reports, the Gramercy Court nursing home patient fell out of her bed and onto the floor while a nursing assistant had her back to the patient. The resident suffered a spinal injury and died a short time later.

State investigators said the fall could have been prevented if the bed rail, which was ordered, had been in place. As a result, a AA citation was issued against the facility, and a $90,000 fine assessed. The maximum fine allowable under California law is $100,000.

To read the entire AA citation, CLICK HERE (.pdf).