Alzheimer's Patient Fell in a Nursing Home and Fractured His Hip...

by Anonymous
(Illinois)

My father has Alzheimers. He was recently found at night on the floor in the hall of his nursing home.

He had an alarm on his bed but apparently it did not function correctly or the staff were not attentive to it. My father sustained a fractured hip in the fall.

Is the nursing home liable? Can they be sued for the damages?

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Alzheimer's Patient Fell in a Nursing Home and Fractured His Hip...":

This is a very unique question, yet one that probably happens more often than we realize. Actually, a recent study found that falls occur at an incident rate of 1.5 times per bed annually.

Here are the basics: Whenever a patient is registered into a nursing care facility, the staff prepare what's called a "minimum data set" which assesses, among other things, the likelihood of a fall.

In legal jargon, this creates the foreseeability of a fall. If the patient has been assessed and it seems likely that he or she might fall and the proper precautions have not been taken to prevent the fall (such as a broken bed alarm), then you have a negligence claim; This means that the facility has fallen below the standard of care expected of a nursing home and an injury has resulted.

Looking at your scenario, your relative must have been assessed at a high risk for fall otherwise he would not have had a bed alarm.

The fact that the bed alarm was broken could be a result of: A manufacturing defect, lack of maintenance, etc. but notwithstanding the cause, it may still lead to a negligence cause of action if the nursing staff failed to recognize that it was broken in advance of the fall.

Assuming negligence, here is what you must do:

File an incident report with the facility and ask the supervisor about the insurance policy in effect at the home for these types of injuries. Contact the insurance company and submit a claim which will give you a claim number and an adjuster with whom you would work to settle the claim once liability is established.

Recognize, however that the quality of your loved-one's care may be compromised as a result. Did I just say that they might treat him badly if you file suit? Yes.

This is not SUPPOSED to happen. It may well NOT happen. However, it DOES sometimes happen and you would be wise to consider all the ramifications (even those that appear unconscionable) in making the decision of whether to sue or not to sue.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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