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Preventable Wheelchair Fall Leads to Multi - Million Dollar Verdict

Preventable Wheelchair Fall Leads to Multi - Million Dollar Verdict

Nursing Home Falls Are Preventable

In April 2011, James Romano was being rehabbed at a New York nursing home on Staten Island. He was 84. On that fateful day he fell from his wheelchair and broke his hip. (You can view our recent blog post to learn more about Mr. Romano’s fall and the Clover Lakes Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center. This post examines nursing home falls and why nursing homes are responsible for injuries to their patients.)

James was originally hospitalized on April 1st of 2011. After some surgery, doctors told him he needed three or four weeks of rehabilitation and healing before he could return home. He elected to go the Clover Lakes Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center for his rehabilitation.

He never made it home. Instead of returning to a normal life at home in a few weeks, his fall caused a hip fracture that would keep him wheelchair bound and living in the nursing home for three more years. He died in the facility in March of 2014 at the age of 87.

Ever since the hip fracture, his life was one of pain, decreased mobility and the inability to return home to his wife. After his death, his wife filed a nursing home neglect lawsuit.

Romano’s wife said Clover Lakes failed to take the appropriate precautions to prevent his fall.

The nursing home in its answer to the lawsuit denied all responsibility. They blamed the hospital and claimed James had a fall there as well.

Eight years from the day of the fall, a New York jury found the nursing home liable. They awarded John’s wife $6 million. Much of that related to his three final years of pain and confinement to a wheelchair. It took the jury just two hours to find the nursing facility responsible and set damages.

Nursing Homes Legally Responsible for Most Falls

Anyone who reads this blog knows how we feel about falls and bedsores. They are preventable.

As soon as a patient is admitted to a nursing facility, medical staff should always perform a fall risk analysis. Romano was elderly, was hospitalized for a back fracture and had a history of falls. All of those should have served as giant red flags and warning signs.

Patients at risk of falls should be escorted when they walk and placed on wheelchairs with seat belts and tray tables. These two simple devices can prevent a patient from falling from a chair.

Nursing homes also need to have sufficient staff on duty so that they can watch patients and assist them when they need to move. Poor lighting and environmental factors also play a role in many nursing home falls. [The author’s mother fell and never recovered when she fell on a freshly mopped, wet floor in a nursing home.]

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 36% of preventable visits to hospitals by nursing home patients represent people who were injured in a fall. And many falls go unreported.

An even worse statistic is that 1,800 of those falls are fatal. And remember, experts say that nursing home falls are almost always preventable.

When a nursing home patient falls and breaks a hip or suffers some other significant injury, those injuries are frequently permanent and lead to a reduced quality of life and further loss of independence. I personally witnessed a nursing home fall lead to the early death of a family member.

Many patients suffer depression and anxiety after a fall related injury. And the statistics show that far more elderly patients fall and get hurt in nursing homes than they do at home.

Our elderly friends and family members deserve the same quality care that others enjoy. Unfortunately, some nursing homes are more like warehouses. Unsafe staffing levels, poor training and a complete lack of oversite. [In many states, reports about the quality of care, preventable accidents and annual site visits are available online or from the state nursing home regulator. We urge people to do some research when selecting a nursing home.]

Nursing homes can be held legally responsible when an act of negligence, neglect, or abuse causes harm to a patient. This means they can be sued and forced to pay damages. If you or a loved one suffered injury from a fall at a nursing home, chances are good that the facility can be held legally responsible.

Our experienced network of nursing home abuse lawyers can help you the family of a loved one collect damages and help put a stop to the neglect or abuse so that others do not suffer.

In addition to filing a claim for damages we can assist in alerting the appropriate authorities so that the state can also take action.

Although these cases often settle, we pride ourselves on being experienced trial lawyers. We are not afraid to take on nursing homes, hospitals and big healthcare corporations. We have access to the best medical and nursing home fall experts who can testify in court if necessary.

If you or a family member suffered a fall and was seriously injured or is being neglected in a nursing home, convalescent center or long-term living facility, call us today. All consultations are free, without obligation and confidential. We consider cases nationwide.

In many states, there are short time periods for bringing nursing home neglect cases, particularly if the facility is owned by the state or county. Do not delay!

For more information, contact us online or by phone at 833.201.1555. We also invite you to download or free eBook on How to Sue a Nursing Home for Negligence or Abuse.

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