The Minnesota Department of Health released an investigative report concluding a resident of Presbyterian Homes of Arden Hills Nursing Home sustained a broken neck due to a fall or other trauma at the facility. The investigation follows the death of 91-year-old Gladys Gall, a resident at the facility. Despite the fact no federal or state nursing home violations were identified, investigators still determined there was ample circumstantial evidence to conclude the nursing home was at fault in the injury and subsequent death of Gall.
On April 18, 2008 Gall was admitted to an emergency room after complaining of head and neck pain. A CT scan confirmed Gall’s pain was related to a cervical fracture. On April 28th, Gall died from complications related to the cervical fracture.
Gall was likely as high fall risk due to memory loss and advanced osteoporosis. Gall required assistance from nursing home staff for most daily living activities.
Investigators interviewed both Gall’s family as well as staff at Arden Hills in attempting to determine the cause of Gall’s broken neck. Additionally, a neurosurgeon was consulted for the state’s investigation and verified Gall suffered a hangman’s fracture. Further, the neurosurgeon opined the severity of the hangman’s fracture could not have occurred without trauma. Although no specific traumatic event could be identified as the culprit of the injury, three conclusions were reached in the report:
- Gall’s death was related to her cervical fracture
- The neck fracture was related to a violent incident or fall
- Someone at the nursing home was aware of what happened to Gall because she would have been unable to pick herself up following her type of injury
Nursing home officials dispute the state’s findings, pointing out the findings were not related to any specific event involving nursing home abuse or maltreatment nor can the report rule out an accident. Read more about this cervical fracture of a Minnesota nursing home resident here.
Nursing Home Falls
Falls are one of the most common sources of injuries amongst nursing home residents. Despite, claims by nursing home officials that some falls are ‘unpreventable’, steps can be taken to minimize the risk of falls and related injuries;
- Identify residents who may be at risk of falling
- Provide adequate staffing to assist residents with transfers, toileting and general mobility
- Remove clutter from the floors
- Encourage residents to use assistive devices
- Minimize the use of medications that can alter blood pressure
Related Nursing Home Abuse Blog Posts On Falls
Web Resource On Hangman’s Fracture