Visitor Question

Nursing Rehab Center’s Negligence Causes Death…

Submitted By: Sandra (Georgetown, DE, USA)

April 15th 2010 my 74 year old mother fell while living in a nursing rehab center. Two days prior she was given a walker by the physical therapist although her file had dozens of references to “vertigo”, “balance issues” and “rolling gait”.

Upon admittance to their care, approx. 1 month earlier, she had been totally bedridden because of weakness and could not even sit up by herself.

The morning she fell, she was up getting dressed and lost her balance. She was unattended at the time. When she fell, she hit her hip, back and head. Staff members found her shortly after – around 8 am. Because of hip pain, they called for a mobile xray unit which arrived several hours later and confirmed a fractured hip.

Transportation to the hospital was arranged and she was admitted to the ER 7 TO 8 HOURS AFTER THE FALL. The ER staff verified the hip fracture but also told us she had a subdural hematoma which was actively bleeding and had been since that morning.

The hospital did not have treatment options and an airlift to another city would have been required. Because of her personal convictions of not wanting someone drilling into her brain and the fear of the transport, she declined the evacuation treatment.

Since she was fully cognitive and carrying on conversations, another doctor there told us it might stop bleeding on it’s own.

That’s when the info came out that she had been given a blood thinner shot after her fall by the nursing rehab center and there was no way the bleeding would stop on it’s own. Mom lapsed into a coma within 48 hours and passed away 10 days after the fall (04/25/10).

Is the Rehab facility responsible for my mom’s fall injuries leading to her death?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Sandra,

On the one hand, there may be liability for failing to properly secure a patient with a known history of vertigo, dizziness, fainting spells, etc. Nursing homes have bed restraints and other protecting mechanisms that they should utilize in such situations. For failing to do so, there MAY be liability.

What is less clear cut is the issue of the blood thinner. In order to be liable for this, there would have to be no medical reason to give such a medication and they would had to have known that blood thinners would be life threatening.

It is my thought that, at the time they were administered, it was not yet life threatening because the need to stop bleeding on her own was necessitated by a fall that had not yet occurred.

I know this is a complicated explanation, but the conduct of the nursing home must be negligent in order for there to be liability and from what you’ve mentioned giving her the blood thinner will fall short of negligence, absent additional facts.

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

Best of luck,

Published: January 12, 2011

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