Recently in Falls & Trauma / Failure to Send to Hospital Category

Nursing homes patients often require physical therapy and/or occupational therapy as part of their rehabilitation process.  These residents may be at risk for falling as a result of numerous factors including physical and/or cognitive disabilities, muscle weakness, or side effects of medications.  We have encountered situations where nursing home residents have experienced falls during physical therapy or occupational therapy treatments.  These falls may be the result of improper and/or inadequate supervision by the nursing home staff.

According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC"), the average nursing home resident experienced 2.6 falls per year.   The CDC reports further that approximately 10% to 20% of nursing home falls result in serious injuries, and approximately 1,800 nursing home residents die each year as a result of falls.

Sadly, a nursing home resident's fall may result in significant disability, functional decline, reduced quality of life and even death.  Of particular concern, are traumatic head and brain injuries resulting from nursing home falls that do not receive immediate medical attention and treatment. 

Traumatic brain injury (also called intracranial injury) occurs when an outside force traumatically injures the brain and may result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object following a fall.  The severity of traumatic brain injury ranges from mild (a brief change in consciousness or mental status) to severe (extended period of unconsciousness or loss of memory) based upon a scale called Glasgow coma scale. 

The United States National Institute of Health ("NIH") has reported that approximately half of severely injured patients will need surgery to remove or repair hematomas (ruptured blood vessels) or contusions (bruised brain tissue).  Even if the fall victim has no visible signs of brain injury, brain bleeding or swelling may begin slowly and result in pressure on the brain as the blood has nowhere to escape.  As the pressure increases, brain cells begin to die with devastating results.  

It is therefore critical to prevent falls in nursing home residents through the use of proper preventative measures and precautions, and carefully monitoring of nursing home residents by the nursing home staff.  In the event that head trauma results from a fall, the nursing home staff must take immediate steps to ensure that the injury is immediately evaluated by the patient's doctor or an outside hospital. 

A sample Maryland Circuit Court Complaint involving claims of nursing home negligence relating to a nursing home fall sustained during physical therapy treatment follows:

COMPLAINT

 Plaintiff, [insert name], by his attorneys, hereby file this Complaint against Defendants, [insert names], and in support thereof states as follows:

PARTIES AND JURISDICTION

 1.   At all times material to this case, Plaintiff has been a citizen and resident of the State of Maryland. 
 2. At all times material to this case, [insert Defendants] have been operating nursing homes and engaging in the practice of medicine and rehabilitation services in Baltimore City and throughout Maryland, acting through actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees.
 3. The venue for this claim is proper in Baltimore City, Maryland.  The amount in controversy exceeds Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00).

FACTS COMMON TO ALL COUNTS

4. At all times mentioned and relevant herein, [insert Defendant] has been licensed by the State of Maryland to own and operate nursing homes in Maryland and has held itself and its agents, servants and employees out to the general public as experienced, competent and capable providers of medical and rehabilitation services, and in such capacity owed a duty to [insert name] to render that degree of medical care and skill which is ordinarily rendered by those who devote special study and attention to the practice of medicine and rehabilitation services. 
5. At all times mentioned and relevant herein, all individuals at [insert Defendant] who participated in the care provided to Plaintiff were acting on behalf of [insert Defendant] and within the scope of their employment and/or agency with [insert Defendant].
6. On or about [insert date], [insert name] was admitted to [insert name of nursing home] for rehabilitation services after being discharged from [insert name of hospital] where he had been treated for a right-sided, middle cerebral artery stroke with resulting left hemiplegia, left hemisensory loss and left neglect.
7. As part of his rehabilitation therapy at the nursing home, [insert name] received physical and occupational therapy.
8. [Insert name]'s initial history and physical examination revealed that he had significant left-sided hemiparesis and neglect with deficits in his sitting balance and gait.  It was also noted that [insert name] had poor insight into his deficits.
9. [Insert name] underwent a physical therapy evaluation on [insert name] during which it was noted that he had poor trunk control and poor sitting balance in a wheelchair.  It was also documented that [insert name] was prone to abrupt position changes in the wheelchair and had a tendency to push himself to the left until he was leaning over the left arm of the wheelchair.  The therapist also noted that [insert name] had decreased vision and impaired perception of spatial relations on the left side.
10. [Insert name] was noted to be at high risk for falls because of the deficits described above, as well as his history of a previous fall in [insert date].  Under these circumstances, the standard of care required the nursing home staff to implement appropriate fall precautions at all times with [insert name].
11. On [insert date], [insert name] fell out his wheelchair while receiving physical therapy.  Predictably, he fell to his left side and struck the left side of his head and body on the floor.  [Insert name] was initially unresponsive following the fall, and a rapid response team was called in to evaluate him. [Insert name] was transported to the hospital and he underwent a CT scan of the head that showed extensive intracranial hemorrhage.  [Insert name]'s mental status was noted be waxing and waning with episodes of somnolence.  [Insert name] also complained of pain in his left side, and a subsequent CT scan of his abdomen revealed a hematoma in his left psoas region.  Over the next few days, [insert name] developed anemia secondary to internal bleeding and required multiple blood transfusions.  He was also noted to have multiple contusions secondary to his fall.
12. [Insert name] was ultimately discharged from the hospital and transferred to nursing home for further rehabilitation.  Since his discharge from the hospital, [insert name] has suffered multiple seizures and continued deficits in his mental status and functioning that his doctors have causally related to the fall and intracranial hemorrhage that he suffered on [insert date].

COUNT I (Professional Negligence)

13. The Plaintiff incorporates all of the allegations contained in the above paragraphs as if those allegations are set forth in this Count.
14. Defendant, individually and through their actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees, owed [insert name] a duty to exercise reasonable care in their treatment of him.
15. Defendant, individually and through its actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees, breached the above-described duty of care to [insert name], thereby deviating from the applicable standards of care, and were otherwise negligent, careless and reckless in that they, among other things:
a. failed to implement appropriate fall precautions for [insert name] despite the fact that he was know to be at high risk for falls;
b. failed to utilize appropriate restraints on [insert name]'s wheelchair despite the fact that he had poor sitting balance and was observed to be prone to abrupt position changes and leaning heavily toward his left side while in the wheelchair; and
c. were otherwise negligent and violated the applicable standards of care.
16. As a direct and proximate result of the above-described deviations from the applicable standards of care and breaches of duty by Defendant, [insert name] was caused to sustain serious, painful and permanent injuries to his body, including great physical and mental pain and suffering.
17. As a further direct and proximate result of the above-described deviations from the applicable standards of care and breaches of duty by Defendant, [insert name], among other things, was forced to undergo medical treatment, and, as a result, was obliged to expend sums of money for medical, hospital and other care and treatment and was precluded from engaging in his normal and usual pursuits and activities, among other injuries and damages.
18. Had Defendant followed the appropriate and applicable standards of care, [insert name] would not have suffered the above-identified injuries and damages.
19. The injuries and damages herein complained of were directly and proximately caused by the negligence and want of care of Defendant, with no negligence on the part of [insert name] contributing thereto.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff requests that a judgment be entered against the Defendant for compensatory damages in excess of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) and any other relief to which this Court finds him entitled.

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Please feel free to contact the nursing home neglect lawyers at Dever & Feldstein, LLC at (888) 825-9119 for a free consultation if you believe that a family member or loved one has sustained serious injury or wrongful death as a result of a nursing home fall, bedsores (also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers), medication error/prescription mistake, dehydration, malnutrition, elder abuse or elder neglect.

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Nursing home residents may be at risk for digestive disease.  Diverticulitis is a fairly common disease found in the colon (large intestine) which occurs when protruding pouches coming out of the wall of the colon become inflamed or infected.  Patients suffering from diverticulitis may experience the following symptoms:  (1) lower abdominal pain; (2) diarrhea; (3) constipation; (4) fever; (5) bleeding from rectum; and/or (6) nausea/vomiting.

Fortunately, this condition can oftentimes be treated with antibiotics and dietary measures so long as it is timely diagnosed. 

The nursing home staff must alert the patient's treating physician if the resident experiences symptoms of digestive disease including diverticulitis.  The failure to do so can have fatal consequences.  For instance, the patient may develop peritonitis or intestinal obstruction requiring emergency surgery and treatment.  Sadly, under these circumstances, the nursing home's failure to timely alert the physician and/or transfer the patient to the hospital may result in serious medical complications or even death. 

A sample Maryland Wrongful Death/Survivorship Complaint involving claims of negligence relating to nursing home failures to make arrangements for the patient to receive necessary medical evaluations and treatment for diverticulitis follows:

COMPLAINT

Plaintiffs, [insert names of Plaintiffs], by their attorneys, hereby file this Complaint against Defendants, [insert names of Defendants], and in support thereof state as follows:

PARTIES AND JURISDICTION

1.   At all times material to this case, Plaintiffs have been citizens and residents of the State of Maryland.  Plaintiffs [insert names] are the surviving children of the decedent, [insert name].  [Insert name of wrongful death beneficiaries] are wrongful death beneficiaries in this action pursuant to Section 3-904(a) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.
2. [Insert name] is the duly appointed Personal Representative of the Estate of [insert name].  The Register of Wills for Baltimore City issued Letters of Administration to [insert name] on [insert date].  The Estate of [insert name] is bringing this survival action pursuant to Section 7-401(x) of the Estates and Trusts Article of the Maryland Code.
3. At all times material to this case, [insert names of Defendants] have been operating nursing homes and engaging in the practice of medicine and rehabilitation services in Baltimore City and throughout Maryland, acting through actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees.
4. The venue for this claim is proper in Baltimore City, Maryland.  The amount in controversy exceeds Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00).

FACTS COMMON TO ALL COUNTS

5. At all times mentioned and relevant herein, [insert names of Defendants] have been licensed by the State of Maryland to own and operate nursing homes iand assisted living facilities in Maryland and have held itself and its agents, servants and employees out to the general public as experienced, competent and capable providers of nursing home, assisted living, and medical and rehabilitation services, and in such capacity owed a duty to [insert name of Plaintiff] and the Plaintiffs to render that degree of medical care and skill which is ordinarily rendered by those who devote special study and attention to the practice of medicine and rehabilitation services.
6. At all times mentioned and relevant herein, all individuals at [insert name of nursing home] who participated in the care provided to [insert name] were acting on behalf of [insert names of Defendants] and within the scope of their employment and/or agency with [insert names of Defendants].
7. On or about [insert date], [insert name] was admitted to [insert name of nursing home].  
8. According to the medical records, on or about [insert date], [insert name of Plaintiff] complained to the nursing home staff of diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramps, and back pain.  Subsequent care notes failed to document that the staff had assessed [insert name]'s abdomen or monitored her condition for improvement or worsening of the diarrhea.
9. A care note dated [insert date] documented that [insert name] continued to complain of nausea.   Once again, however, the care note failed to document any assessment of [insert name]'s abdomen or bowel function.
10. A care noted dated [insert date] documented that [insert name] was continuing to complain of nausea and diarrhea.  The note further documented that [insert name]'s abdomen was distended and tender to the touch, and that there was a foul BM (bowel movement) odor in [insert name]'s room.   Despite these findings, the nursing home staff failed to obtain necessary medical assistance for [insert name].
11. On [insert date], [insert name] continued to complain of nausea and abdominal pain.   [Insert name]'s physician was finally notified and [inset name] was transported to the emergency room at [insert name of hospital].
12. Doctors at [insert name of hospital] ran preliminary tests and determined that [insert name] was severely dehydrated and anemic.  After admitting [insert name] to the hospital and running additional tests, doctors determined that [insert name] had an acute sigmoid diverticulitis that had produced multiple large pelvic abscesses.  Doctors initially attempted to drain the abscesses but were unsuccessful.   [Insert name] subsequently underwent a major abdominal surgery and colon resection.  By this point, however, [insert name] had developed peritonitis and acute renal failure.  [Insert name] died on [insert date].  The Death Certificate lists the primary cause of death as sepsis related to perforated diverticular disease.

COUNT I (Professional Negligence)

13. The Plaintiffs incorporate all of the allegations contained in the above paragraphs as if those allegations are set forth in this Count.
14. Defendants, individually and through their actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees, owed [insert name] a duty to exercise reasonable care in their treatment of her.
15. Defendants, individually and through their actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees, breached the above-described duty of care to [insert name], thereby deviating from the applicable standards of care, and were otherwise negligent, careless and reckless in that they, among other things:

a. failed to appropriately monitor and evaluate [insert name]'s ongoing medical condition;
b. failed to timely and properly diagnose [insert name]'s diverticulitis;
c. failed to make arrangements for [insert name] to receive necessary medical evaluations and treatment for her diverticulitis, which resulted in [insert name] developing large pelvic abscesses, peritonitis and renal failure, conditions that ultimately caused her death; and
d. were otherwise negligent and violated the applicable standards of care.

16. As a direct and proximate result of the above-described deviations from the applicable standards of care and breaches of duty by Defendants, [insert name] was caused to sustain serious, painful and permanent injuries to her body, including great physical and mental pain and suffering, and, ultimately, death.
17. As a further direct and proximate result of the above-described deviations from the applicable standards of care and breaches of duty by Defendants, [insert name], among other things, was compelled to undergo medical procedures and treatment and, as a result, was obliged to expend sums of money for medical care and was precluded from engaging in her normal pursuits and activities, among other injuries and damages.
18. Had Defendants followed the appropriate and applicable standards of care, [insert name] would not have suffered the above-identified injuries, damages and death.
19. The injuries herein complained of were directly and proximately caused by the negligence and want of care of Defendants, with no negligence on the part of [insert name] contributing thereto.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs request that a judgment be entered against the Defendants for compensatory damages in excess of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) and any other relief to which this Court finds them entitled.

COUNT II (Wrongful Death)

20. The Plaintiffs incorporate all of the allegations contained in the above paragraphs as if those allegations are set forth in this Count.

21. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants' above-described negligence in causing the death of [insert name], [insert names of wrongful death beneficiaries] have sustained, among other things, pecuniary loss, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, loss of companionship, loss of comfort, loss of protection, loss of parental care, loss of filial care, loss of attention, loss of advice, loss of counsel, loss of guidance and loss of education. 

WHEREFORE, the Plaintiffs request that a judgment be entered against the Defendants for compensatory damages in excess of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) and any other relief to which this Court finds them entitled.

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Please feel free to contact the nursing home neglect lawyers at Dever & Feldstein, LLC at (888) 825-9119 for a free consultation if you believe that a family member or loved one has sustained serious injury or wrongful death as a result of failure to diagnose and/or treat digestive disease such as diverticulitis, bed sores (also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers), nursing home falls, dehydration/malnutrition, medication administration error/prescription mistake, elder abuse or elder neglect.

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Nursing home residents may be at risk for falling as a result of cognitive and physical disabilities and muscle weakness, as well as the side effects of medications.  Many falls also occur during transfers of immobile patients from or to beds, wheelchairs or Geri-chairs.  Nursing home residents may also experience falls during physical therapy or occupational therapy treatments.

Hip (or femoral) fractures resulting from nursing homes falls are especially common.  These injuries may require surgical intervention including the placement of plates and bone grafts.  There are significant risks for post-operative complications including infection, pneumonia, blood clots, blood loss, and hip dislocation.  Many of these nursing home fall victims ultimately die as a result of these life-threatening complications. 

Under Maryland law, when a nursing home resident dies as a result of nursing home negligence, two causes of action arise: (1) a wrongful death claim; and (2) a survivorship claim.

A sample redacted Maryland Circuit Court Wrongful Death/Survivorship Complaint involving claims of nursing home negligence relating to nursing home falls follows:

COMPLAINT

Plaintiffs, [insert name], Individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of [insert name], [insert names of wrongful death beneficiaries], by their attorneys, David L. Feldstein and Dever & Feldstein, LLC, hereby file this Complaint against Defendant Health Care Provider, [insert Defendant], and in support thereof state as follows:

PARTIES AND JURISDICTION

 1.   At all times material to this case, Plaintiff, [insert name], has been a citizen and resident of the State of Maryland.  Plaintiffs [insert names] are surviving children of the decedent, [insert name].  [Insert wrongful death beneficiaries] are wrongful death primary beneficiaries in this action pursuant to Section 3-904(a) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.
 2. [Insert name] is the duly appointed Personal Representative of the Estate of [insert name].  The Estate of [insert name] is bringing this survival action pursuant to Section 7-401(x) of the Estates and Trusts Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.
 3. At all times material to this case, [insert Defendant] has been a corporation existing under the laws of the State of Maryland, engaging in the practice of medicine and rehabilitation services in Baltimore City, Maryland, and acting through actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees.
 4. The venue for this claim is proper in Baltimore City, Maryland.  The amount in controversy exceeds Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00).

FACTS COMMON TO ALL COUNTS

 5. At all times mentioned and relevant herein, [insert Defendant] was a licensed nursing home and rehabilitation center in the State of Maryland, holding itself and its agents, servants and employees out to the general public as experienced, competent and capable providers of nursing home and rehabilitation services, and in such capacity owed a duty to [insert name] and the Plaintiffs to render that degree of medical care and skill which is ordinarily rendered by those who devote special study and attention to the practice of medicine and rehabilitation services.
 6. At all times mentioned and relevant herein, all individuals at [insert Defendant] who participated in the care provided to [insert name] were acting on behalf of [insert Defendant] and within the scope of their employment and/or agency with [insert Defendant].
 7. On or about [insert date], [insert name] was admitted to [insert name] nursing home.  On or about [insert date], Plaintiff's treating orthopedist, [insert name], determined that Plaintiff sustained a mild compression fracture of her spine and he ordered that Plaintiff required the "assistance of two people" to ambulate.
 8. On [insert date], Plaintiff requested assistance so that she could go to the bathroom.  Contrary to the above referenced doctor's order, Plaintiff was assisted by only one individual, a geriatric nursing assistant ("GNA"), who proceeded to twist her to the floor when her back gave out.  The GNA reported that she heard a "pop" sound to Plaintiff's left knee before she touched the ground.    
 9.  Plaintiff was subsequently transported to [insert name] Hospital where she was diagnosed with a complex left distal femoral fracture.  She underwent open reduction and internal fixation surgery on [insert date] requiring the placement of a plate and a bone graft.  Following this surgery, she developed significant complications including ischemic colitis and pneumonia.  She required additional surgery and went on to develop respiratory failure and was placed on a ventilator.  She ultimately expired on [insert date].  The death certificate lists the immediate cause of death as fracture left femur.
 10. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene investigated this matter and determined that [insert Defendant] failed to provide Plaintiff with adequate supervision and assistance to prevent accidents. 

COUNT I  (Professional Negligence)

18. The Plaintiffs incorporate all of the allegations contained in the above paragraphs as if those allegations are set forth in this Count.
19. Defendant, individually and through their actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees, owed Plaintiff a duty to exercise reasonable care in their treatment of her.
20. Defendant, individually and through their actual and/or apparent agents, servants and/or employees, breached the above-described duty of care to Plaintiff, thereby deviating from the applicable standards of care, and were otherwise negligent, careless and reckless in that they, among other things:
(a) failed to ambulate Plaintiff with the assistance of two assistants as ordered by her treating physician;
(b) failed to provide adequate supervision and assistance to Plaintiff to prevent accidents; 
(c) were otherwise negligent and violated the applicable standards of care.
21. As a direct and proximate result of the above-described deviations from the applicable standards of care and breaches of duty by Defendant, Plaintiff was caused to sustain serious, painful and permanent injuries to her body, including great physical and mental pain and suffering, and, ultimately, death.
22. As a further direct and proximate result of the above-described deviations from the applicable standards of care and breaches of duty by Defendant, Plaintiff, among other things, was forced to undergo surgical procedures and medical treatment, and, as a result, was obliged to expend sums of money for medical, hospital and other care and treatment and was precluded from engaging in her normal and usual pursuits and activities, among other injuries and damages.
23. Had Defendant followed the appropriate and applicable standards of care, Plaintiff would not have suffered the above-identified injuries, damages and death.
24. The injuries and damages herein complained of were directly and proximately caused by the negligence and want of care of Defendant, with no negligence on the part of Plaintiff contributing thereto.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs request that a judgment be entered against the Defendant for compensatory damages in excess of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) and any other relief to which this Court finds them entitled.

COUNT II  (Wrongful Death)

 25. The Plaintiffs incorporate all of the allegations contained in the above paragraphs as if those allegations are set forth in this Count.
 26. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant's above-described negligence in causing the death of [insert name], [insert wrongful death beneficiaries] have sustained, among other things, pecuniary loss, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, loss of companionship, loss of comfort, loss of protection, loss of parental care, loss of filial care, loss of attention, loss of advice, loss of counsel, loss of training, loss of guidance and loss of education.  [Insert name]'s death is a tragedy from which they will never recover.

 WHEREFORE, the Plaintiffs request that a judgment be entered against the Defendant for compensatory damages in excess of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00) and any other relief to which this Court finds them entitled.

*  *  *

Please feel free to contact the nursing home neglect lawyers at Dever & Feldstein, LLC at (888) 825-9119 for a free consultation if you believe that a family member or loved one has sustained serious injury or wrongful death as a result of nursing home falls, bed sores (also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers), dehydration/malnutrition, medication administration error/prescription mistake, elder abuse or elder neglect.

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Your Name: Email Address: Phone Number:

Nursing homes patients are typically at risk for falling as a result of numerous factors including physical and/or cognitive disabilities, muscle weakness, or side effects of medications.  In our nursing home neglect and abuse cases, we have encountered many situations where nursing home residents have experienced falls during transfers from or to beds, wheelchairs or Geri-chairs, and during physical therapy or occupational therapy treatments.  These falls may be the result of improper and/or inadequate supervision or staffing by the nursing home.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC"), the average nursing home resident experienced 2.6 falls per year.   The CDC reports further that approximately 10% to 20% of nursing home falls result in serious injuries, and approximately 1,800 nursing home residents die each year as a result of falls.

In our practice, we have seen many situations where a nursing home resident's fall results in significant disability, functional decline, reduced quality of life and even death.  Of particular concern, are traumatic head and brain injuries resulting from nursing home falls that too often do not receive immediate medical attention and treatment. 

Traumatic brain injury (also called intracranial injury) occurs when an outside force traumatically injures the brain and may result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object following a fall.  The severity of traumatic brain injury ranges from mild (a brief change in consciousness or mental status) to severe (extended period of unconsciousness or loss of memory) based upon a scale called Glasgow coma scale.  According to the CDC, approximately 1.4 million people sustain traumatic brain injuries each year resulting in 50,000 deaths and 235,000 hospitalizations.  

The United States National Institute of Health ("NIH") has reported that approximately half of severely injured patients will need surgery to remove or repair hematomas (ruptured blood vessels) or contusions (bruised brain tissue).  Even if the fall victim has no visible signs of brain injury, brain bleeding or swelling may begin slowly and result in pressure on the brain as the blood has nowhere to escape.  As the pressure increases, brain cells begin to die with devastating results.   In our experience, nursing home fall victims may not receive the necessary CT scan testing and other medical attention following head trauma with tragic and potentially fatal results. 

A CT scan of the head will quickly reveal blood clots, bleeding or skull fractures that may require immediate medical care and surgical intervention.  As alluded to above, a complicating factor is that head trauma victims may appear awake with no visible symptoms as swelling and bleeding can start slowly giving the nursing home staff a false sense of security regarding the fall victim's condition.  The recent tragic death of actress Natasha Richardson as a result of a blunt impact to her head secondary to a minor skiing accident on a beginner's slope attracted substantial media attention and can be instructive.  Immediately following her fall, Ms. Richardson seemed fine and was reportedly even joking about her fall.  Approximately one hour later she developed a headache and didn't feel well resulting in a significant delay before she was finally transported to the hospital.  Unfortunately, by the time she arrived at the hospital it was too late and she died.        

It is therefore critical to prevent falls in nursing home residents through the use of proper preventative measures and precautions, and carefully monitoring of nursing home residents by the nursing home staff.  In the event that head trauma results from a fall, the nursing home staff must take immediate steps to ensure that the injury is immediately evaluated by the patient's doctor or an outside hospital.  Traumatic brain injury may be a very treatable condition if the nursing home staff merely takes proper actions to quickly transfer the resident to a hospital.  In this regard, it is better to be safe than sorry, and good practice requires nursing home fall victims with head trauma to be seen by a doctor immediately.  

Please feel free to contact the nursing home neglect lawyers at Dever & Feldstein, LLC at (888) 825-9119 for a free consultation if you believe that a family member or loved one has sustained serious injury or wrongful death as a result of a nursing home fall, bedsores (also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers), medication error/prescription mistake, dehydration, malnutrition, elder abuse or elder neglect. 

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The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC") has recognized that as the American population grows older, more and more individuals become vulnerable and dependent upon others to meet their most basis needs.  According to the CDC, a 1996 study found that more than 500,000 people age 60 or older were victims of neglect or abuse during a one-year period.  

Sadly, nursing home residents are all too often killed as a result of nursing home neglect or abuse.  For instance, nursing home residents may develop infected stage 3 or infected stage 4 bedsores (also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers), experience falls, dehydration, malnutrition, or medication errors/prescription mistakes resulting in painful and life-threatening injuries. 

Under Maryland law, when a nursing home resident experiences death secondary to nursing home negligence, two causes of action arise: (1) a wrongful death claim; and (2) a survivorship claim.

First, the wrongful death claim is a statutory cause of action governed by Sections 3-901 et seq. of the Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceeding Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.  The Maryland Wrongful Death Statute makes clear that there can only be "one action . . . in respect to the death of a person."  See Section 3-904(f).  Section 3-904 sets forth the categories of individuals who are wrongful death beneficiaries.  Generally, the decedent's surviving parents, spouse and surviving biological or legally adopted children are wrongful death beneficiaries who must be included in a claim for wrongful death.  Because there can only be one cause of action for wrongful death, it is required that all wrongful death beneficiaries be joined as plaintiffs and named in the lawsuit.

The wrongful death claim seeks to collect damages suffered by the wrongful death beneficiaries in their own right as a result of losing their loved one.  Wrongful death beneficiaries are generally entitled to seek monetary recovery for their emotional pain and suffering experienced secondary to the loss of their family member.  These damages are subject to Maryland's Noneconomic Damages Cap.

The second cause of action arising following the death of a nursing home resident is the survivorship claim.  This claim is brought on behalf of the decedent's estate by the personal representative of the estate.  In situations where the decedent had a will, the personal representative is named in the will.  In the event the nursing home resident dies without a will (also known as dying intestate), it may be necessary to file a Petition for a Small Estate for litigation purposes in the Orphan's Court of the Maryland County where the decedent resided at the time of his or her death in order to have a personal representative appointed.

The survivorship claim seeks to recover for certain categories of the decedent's individual damages that could have been recovered if he or she had survived, including their conscious pain and suffering resulting from the nursing home neglect (subject to Maryland's Noneconomic Damages Cap), medical bills resulting from the negligence, and funeral bills.  In essence, the personal representative of the estate steps into the shoes of the decedent in order to assert his or her claims of injury and damages.

Importantly, the personal representative does not personally recover for these claims of survivorship damages.  Rather, any monies recovered pursuant to the survivorship action must be deposited into the bank account of the decedent's Estate and distributed in accordance with his or her will (or, if there is no will, distribution is made in accordance with Maryland's laws of intestacy contained in Title 3 of the Trusts and Estates Article of the Maryland Annotated Code). 

Nursing home abuse and negligence lawsuits are vigorously defended by the nursing home and their insurance company and attorneys.  Ultimately, successful recovery in these cases require that the surviving family members and wrongful death beneficiaries unite and work together in cooperation as a team in the pursuit of the case so that the underlying circumstances can be investigated promptly, and then litigated aggressively by the lawyers representing the family.    

Please feel free to contact the nursing home neglect attorneys at Dever & Feldstein, LLC at (888) 825-9119 for a free consultation if you believe that a family member or loved one has sustained serious injury or wrongful death as a result of bedsores (also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers), nursing home falls, dehydration/malnutrition, medication error/prescription mistake, elder abuse or elder neglect.

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According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC"), each year an average nursing home with 100 beds reports 100 to 200 resident falls, and many falls go unreported.  Many nursing home residents fall more than once and the average resident experiences 2.6 falls per year.   The CDC reports further that: (1) approximately 35% of fall injuries involve nursing home residents who cannot walk; (2) approximately 10% to 20% of these falls result in serious injuries; (3) approximately 2% to 6% of these falls result in fractures; and (4) approximately 1,800 nursing home residents die each year as a result of falls.

Nursing home residents are often at risk for falling as a result of cognitive and physical disabilities and muscle weakness, as well as the side effects of medications.  Many falls also occur during transfers of immobile patients from or to beds, wheelchairs or Geri-chairs.  Nursing home residents also experience falls during physical therapy or occupational therapy treatments.

In our law practice, we have seen too many situations where a nursing home resident's fall results in significant disability, functional decline, reduced quality of life and even death.  Of particular concern, are hip (or femoral) fractures resulting from falls.  These injuries may require surgical intervention including the placement of plates and bone grafts.  There are significant risks for post-operative complications including infection, pneumonia, blood clots, blood loss, and hip dislocation.  Sadly, many of these nursing home fall victims ultimately die as a result of these life-threatening complications.  As reported by the Star Phoenix, according to a study published online on August 4, 2009 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, nearly 25% of all Canadians who break their hip die within five years of being diagnosed.  This percentage is likely even higher with nursing home residents.

It is therefore critical to prevent falls in nursing home residents through the use of proper preventative measures and precautions, and carefully monitoring of nursing home residents by the nursing home staff.  

Please feel free to contact the nursing home attorneys at Dever & Feldstein, LLC at (888) 825-9119 for a free consultation if you believe that a family member or loved one has sustained serious injury as a result of a nursing home fall, bedsores (also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcers), medication error, elder abuse or elder neglect.  
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