Perhaps no topic in nursing home litigation is more hotly contested that resident fall cases. At the heart of the issue is really the feasibility of the facility in preventing patient falls. Certainly, this topic will continue to be hotly debated amongst nursing home operators and patient advocates as the rights of the patients are balanced against the feasibility of fall prevention techniques.
The nursing home fall debate once again made news headlines in Ohio when the family of a deceased nursing home patient filed a lawsuit against the facility in the aftermath of their mother’s death shortly following a fall.
While the feasibility of preventing the woman’s fall is no doubt relevant in addressing the facilities liability, what make this situation particularly disturbing is the fact that the facility never communicated the woman’s extensive fall history to the family.
The lawsuit alleges that Larchwood Village Retirement Community (Ohio) never told Gladys Feran’s family of her 17 documented falls during her 16 month stay at the facility. It wasn’t until Ms. Feran was transferred to a hospital in April, 2009 that the family learned of her extensive history of falls from both her chart as well as documentation related to state inspections.
Though it may be a dreaded call to place to the family of an injured nursing home patient to notify them of a fall at the facility— the call is necessary. Federal law requires nursing homes to notify family any time there is a change in their loved ones condition.
I firmly believe that facilities failure to notify families about development of a medical condition or an acute event, such as a fall, is done more out of a desire to conceal the truth than out of guilt that the incident occurred in the first place. My experience is that most of these attempts to cover-up backfire against the facility, the the omission results in significant distrust both amongst the family and jurors as the truth eventually comes to light.
For laws related to Ohio nursing homes, look here.