Two falls within a 24-hour period resulted in the death of a California nursing home patient. The incident involved a patient was was recently admitted to the facility for rehabilitation following hip surgery. The falls took place on May 9th and 10th at Aviara Healthcare Center in Encinitas, CA.
After the first fall (that did not cause any injury), the staff put a bed alarm on the patients bed to alert the staff if he got out of the bed. Despite the bed alarm, staff at the nursing home failed take notice when the man got out of his bed and entered the nearby hallway. In an effort to stabilize himself, the man grabbed on to a lift that was parked in the hallway and it fell on top of him resulting in multiple trauma. Three days later, the man died from his injuries.
An investigation into the matter revealed that the facility should have never allowed the lift machine to remain in the hallway it posed a risk to residents due to its propensity to fall. Investigators also determined that the facility failed to have proper guardrails that may have further contributed to the man’s death.
The facility was fines $100,000 for this incident. Read more about the fines related to this California nursing home here.
The importance of investigations by state agencies
One of the things that jumped in my head after learning abut this fall incident was how valuable inspections by state agencies are. Inspectors have access to facilities where they can do a physical inspection of the equipment involved in an alleged incident– but perhaps most importantly is that they have access to nursing home employees and administrators who have knowledge of an incident– these people have no choice but to speak with these investigators.
In nursing home litigation cases, these inspections frequently provide the necessary information to successfully prosecute a case. In most situations, by the time a nursing home negligence lawsuit is filed, the employees involved in an event have long since left the facility and it is difficult– if not downright impossible to find them. In the case of a disabled to deceased plaintiff, the testimony is essential to prove the case.
All this is to reinforce the importance of notifying the state department of health immediately upon learning of an event where a loved one was injured or killed. A timely investigation by state authorities can mean the difference between a successful prosecution of a matter and an ‘unfortunate tragedy’.
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