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Elderly Woman Dies After Nursing Home Fire Drill

On the surface, it appears nursing home personnel were trying to ensure resident safety by conducting a fire drill.

However, our Weston nursing home negligence attorneys know that policies and procedures should be in place at these facilities to protect residents from harm.

That apparently did not happen at a facility in Alabama, where during the drill, a 94-year-old woman in a wheelchair rolled down hill, landing in a ditch filled with water. She suffered bruises and cuts to her arms and legs and she was covered with dirt on her face. In the days after, she developed severe pneumonia, and subsequently died.

Investigators are still trying to piece together how the fall occurred and whether her injuries were as a result were directly related to her death.

The local county coroner was quoted by a newspaper reporter as saying falls among elderly nursing home residents are fairly common, and even when they aren’t into a ditch of water, they can be fatal. That’s because once somebody is injured, their immune system is compromised. So any other ailment they may have been suffering becomes amplified as the body tries to fight off infection.

According to family members, the woman had already fallen and broken her hip once in recent memory while at the home. They debated moving her to another facility at that time, but decided ultimately to keep her there because she was closer to friends and family.

The family has also said they are waiting for the results of the investigation before taking any legal action against the facility. This is probably wise, but it’s also smart for survivors coping with such a loss to reach out to a skilled Weston nursing home lawyer who can help guide you through the process.

The Centers for Disease Control offers extensive information about how to prevent elder falls, and nursing homes should be following these guidelines and more, particularly with individuals who have increasingly limited mobility.

The CDC estimates that by 2020, the annual direct and indirect cots of nursing home falls for those over the age of 65 will reach $55 billion (it stood at $19 billion in 2000). The average cost for a fall involving a person 72 or older was nearly $20,000, and included hospital, nursing home, emergency room, and home health care. It did not include doctor services.

As you look around your loved one’s nursing home, make sure:

–Items such as papers, books, shoes, medical equipment, is removed from areas of high traffic, where someone may be likely to trip.

–If there are rugs in the facility, make sure they are somehow secured, such as with double-sided tape, to keep it from slipping. Also make sure the corners and edges lay flat, and don’t pose a risk to those in wheelchairs.

–If there are no grab bars on the sides of toilets or in showers, ask about having them installed for safety purposes.

–Make sure non-slip bathmats are located both in the bathtub, on shower floors and on the bathroom floor.

–Make sure that the lighting is sufficient enough for your elderly loved one to see where he or she is going.

Call Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Woman, 94, dies after mishap at nursing home, Oct. 28, 2012, Decatur Daily

More Blog Entries:
Florida Nursing Home Placed on Federal Watch List, Oct. 18, 2012, Weston Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog

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