State investigators have cited a nursing home for neglect in two fatal fall cases that occurred at the Minnesota facility just five months apart – one attributed to a faulty mechanical lift and another to a negligent aide.
The Star Tribune reports the first incident involved a resident who fell while being assisted in the bathroom by a nurse’s aide who reportedly failed to use a gait belt (also known as a transfer belt) on her walker as she made her way to the bathroom. When the woman left the bathroom, she fell and struck her head on a wall, dying from brain hemorrhaging several days later. The aide later explained she didn’t use the belt because she had forgotten it in another resident’s room. An investigation by the state concluded it was the aide’s fault for not properly using the equipment. She was disciplined with a five-day suspension from work and staffers were retrained on why using the gait belt is necessary.
Then a few months later, another resident suffered a fatal fall after slipping from a mechanical lift – one that nursing home staffers knew had a defective part. In that instance, the state did find the mechanical defect was the problem, but cited the nursing home anyway because there was evidence staffers were aware of those problems and used it anyway. The resident had been placed into the lift, but soon after fell onto the floor when one of the safety tabs popped off, resulting in the harness disengaging, dropping her. She suffered a broken leg, but died days later due to complications. An investigative report indicated the facility did not maintain the machine according to the instructions by the manufacturer. In fact, three of the four lifts in use at the facility reportedly had rubber safety tabs that often cracked or loosened, rendering the machines unsafe. The facility reportedly had no procedure through which to monitor this danger to residents.
In a somewhat surprising move, the administrator of the nursing home said the facility won’t appeal the determination in either decision. Further, he said, the facility no longer uses the lift involved in the first resident’s death and that a new model has been brought and undergoes inspections every day.
Nursing home falls are not a problem isolated to this one facility in the Midwest. They are a serious problem here in Florida too, as well as nationally. As reportedly by Florida Atlantic University’s Center on Aging, falls are the No. cause of injury in adults 65 and older, and roughly half of all nursing home residents fall every year with between 10-to-25-percent experiencing serious injury. Florida ranks No. 2 nationally for having the most seniors die in accidental falls.
Falling is not a normal part of aging, and it’s worth pointing out that residents in nursing homes and patients in hospitals suffer about three times as many falls as those who live at home. The consequences are serious, with researchers concluding the mortality rate of someone who suffers a hip fracture in a fall (one of the most common injuries) is five to eight times that of someone who has not fallen (three months after the fact).
If someone you loved has been injured in a nursing home fall, our dedicated nursing home injury lawyers in Orlando can help you explore your legal options.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
State faults Northfield nursing home for neglect for two deaths 5 months apart, Feb. 20, 2018, By Paul Walsh, Star Tribune
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