PA Nursing Home Lawsuit Claims Facility Failed To Supervise & Implement Wheelchair Precautions

Picture-47A nursing home negligence lawsuit has been filed against the Village at Luther Square Nursing Home after Edward O’Neil died from injuries allegedly sustained due to a fall from his wheelchair.  According the the facts alleged in the lawsuit, staff at Village at Luther Square left O’Neil unattended in his wheelchair for several hours on July 5, 2008.

During the unsupervised time, Mr. O’Neil’s wheelchair tipped over onto him causing him to suffer a brain bleed and fractured neck.

The lawsuit brought by Mr. O’Neil’s estate, claims that staff at the nursing home failed to: provide visual checks, utilize appropriate restraints and implement ‘anti-tipping’ precautions on the wheelchair.  Mr. O’Neil died two days after the incident from ‘natural causes’.

Mr. O’Neil’s death accentuates many problems at Luther Square that were recorded by nursing home inspectors.  Following the death of Mr. O’Neil and another resident who died from a similar fall-related incident, the Pennsylvania Department of Health downgraded Luther Villages nursing home license.  Similarly, in June, 2008 state inspectors fined the Erie, PA nursing home $7,000 after finding 21 violations relating to patient care and building conditions.

This case is pending Erie County Court.  Read more about this Pennsylvania nursing home lawsuit here.

For laws related to Pennsylvania nursing homes, look here.

The Importance Of Nursing Home Inspections

If anything, this case highlights the importance of getting inspectors (also referred to as ‘surveyors’) from your state’s department of health involved in the investigation process following a incident involving injury or death.  Despite a large workload and a frequently inhospitable work environment, department of health employees provide a vital service for injured residents and their families.

Nursing home inspectors have access to documents and witnesses that would frequently be unavailable outside of a litigation setting.  Moreover, their access in the days, weeks and months following an incident or period of neglect helps assure important facts are documented in a timely manor.

While the reports generated by nursing home inspections are usually considered to be inadmissible in court, the specific facts can be crucial to the success of nursing home lawsuits.  Perhaps, equally beneficial to both the resident and the the facility, the findings in the report may reveal the facilities appropriate actions relating to an incident.  In these circumstances, the findings may prevent a disappointing outcome for an injured party years down the road.

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