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Morrow v. Fundamental Long-Term Care – Nursing Home Shower Injury

A lawsuit alleging nursing home injury sustained to a patient who was dropped while being assisted into the shower was weighed recently by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Specifically at issue in Morrow v. Fundamental Long-Term Care was whether plaintiffs – patient and his wife – could appeal an order bifurcating the trial into two – one against the nursing home itself and one against the corporate entity that owns the nursing home.

The court determined an appeals court did err in finding the order was not appealable. That doesn’t mean plaintiffs win their case. It just means they can return to the appeals court to ask for reconsideration on that specific issue.

The facts of the case are this:

Patient alleged the nursing home in charge of his care was negligent in providing care when he sustained injury while being assisted in the shower. As a result of that injury, he was required to undergo a surgical procedure to remove a penile implant.

Further, plaintiff alleged nursing home staffers did not properly monitor his condition of diabetes, and nor did they provide proper care for his pressure wounds.

He and his wife filed a lawsuit against the nursing home as well as a number of corporate entities who supplied funding and management guidance for the center. Like so many large, chain nursing home providers across the country, this is a for-profit center.

In addition to the negligence of the nursing home itself, plaintiff alleges the corporations were liable in two ways. First, they were vicariously liable as the parent company of the nursing home. Secondly, he asserted, they were directly liable because they knowingly disregarded his health and safety (and that of other patients) by severely underfunding the center. This in turn, he alleges, resulted in issues with staffing shortages, inadequate training and poor patient nutrition.

The corporate entities sought to bifurcate the proceedings into two, with the claim against the corporate entities not being allowed to proceed unless the claim against the nursing home was found to be valid. Defendants argued this would save time and judicial costs, and also was proper because the two claims were distinct.

Trial court granted that motion, and plaintiffs asked for reconsideration, which trial court denied. Plaintiffs then appealed that order, only for appellate court to dismiss the claim, finding the order was not appealable. State supreme court reversed.

This doesn’t mean there necessarily won’t be two separate trials, but the appeals court at least has to consider plaintiff’s argument against it.

Nursing home injuries that occur in the shower are more commonplace than many realize.

In recognizing the potential hazards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends a host of procedures that help protect nursing home staffers from injury, but also serve to keep patients safe too.

These practices involve using shower chairs, gait belts, wheelchair scales and mechanical lifting devices. It’s also imperative that floors be kept dry and non-slip mats are in place where practical. Additionally, spills need to be reported and immediately cleaned and no-slip footwear worn at all times.

Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Morrow v. Fundamental Long-Term Care , June 17, 2015, South Carolina Supreme Court

More Blog Entries:

Ex parte Fairfield Nursing & Rehabilitation Ctr. – Dropped Nursing Home Patient, June 22, 2015, Orlando Nursing Home Injury Lawyer Blog

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