Nursing homes have an obligation to create and implement personalized care plans for every patient at their facility. The care plan is not an optional activity, rather the plans are required by federal law. Recognizing the threat of falling– and fall-related injuries— the care plan must assess and address each patients fall propensities.
Particularly in nursing home fall cases, where a patient may fall for a variety of reasons– some due to poor care and some completely independent thereof, it is important to look at the specific incident and evaluate if the safeguards were properly implemented– or not.
As a nursing home lawyer, comparing the the safeguards implemented at the time of the fall vs. what was prescribed in the patient’s care plan is really a crucial step towards evaluating a potential claim against a facility. Further, as patient’s needs change, facilities need to re-asses their care plans to accommodate the patient’s needs.
This being said, an Ohio jury surely didn’t buy the assertions made by Heather Knoll Nursing and Rehabilitation Center that they provided all of the necessary safeguards to ensure the safety of Robin Volpe. Recently, the jury awarded Mrs. Volpe’s family more than $1 million in a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from fall-related incident at the facility.
Though the facility intends on appealing this verdict, I’m sure that this lawsuit is a real wake up call for the facility especially in terms of the way they implement fall prevention measures. At the very least, I hope that this lawsuit and substantial verdict help improve the safety for other residents at the facility.