A DeKalb County jury awarded $1.8 million to the estate of a nursing home resident who died as a consequence of hitting her head in a fall from bed as the staff carelessly changed the bed linens while she remained in the bed.  She suffered a brain injury after an aide rolled her off her bed, causing her to fall to the floor and hit her head.  The jury verdict covered the pain and suffering of Christine Mitchell but included no damage award on an accompanying wrongful death claim.

Attorneys for the woman’s son and executor said the verdict revealed that a jury could find value in the suffering of even terminally ill plaintiffs.  Mitchell, who was already in poor health, died a month after the 2015 fall at Grace Healthcare of Tucker.  Grace Healthcare of Tucker is a 136-bed for-profit facility which is part of a Tennessee-based chain that operates more than 30 homes in multiple states.  The home currently has a 1-star rating — the lowest — on the federal government’s “Nursing Home Compare” website. The federal website rates the facility as “much below average” on the three key categories of health inspections, staffing and quality measures.

“One of the interesting things about this kind of case is how a jury would look at her. What is the pain and suffering worth for a woman dropped on her head who probably only had another six months to live?” said Evan Jones of Athens’ Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley.

“The jury answered that very important question: Their pain and suffering does matter,” said Jones, who tried the case with co-counsel Michael Prieto, William Holbert and Jonathan Marigliano of Prieto, Marigliano, Holbert & Prieto, an Atlanta firm.

Jones said his team made a $500,000 offer of settlement on the pain and suffering claim and a similar offer on wrongful death in September, both of which were declined.

Kathleen Menard is the six million dollar woman. Menard was a resident of the Harbor Place assisted living facility in Port St. Lucie.

In July 2017 Menard fell while walking without assistance or supervision outside the facility.  The facility had given her a safety pendant, where if she falls, she can press the pendant to get help and the staff were to come out and help. But there was one big problem: the staff never told her the pendant didn’t work outside.

A visitor found Menard unconscious. It is unclear how long she was lying on the ground.  She had suffered burns in the extreme heat and fatal heatstroke. She died 87 days later.

Menard’s family sued Port St. Lucie Retirement Investors. A jury compensated her and her family with a six million dollar verdict after winning a wrongful death lawsuit.

“I’m hoping legislation will change and it’ll also change for other people so nobody ever has to go through this. This is the worst thing I’ve ever dealt with in my life and I will never, ever live it down,” said Menard’s daughter.

 

 

THI OF SOUTH CAROLINA AT CHARLESTON, LLC is a nursing home in North Charleston owned and operated by Fundamental Long Term Care Holdings LLC which is now known as Hunt Valley Holdings.  The facility is known as Riverside Health and Rehab.  The facility is awful as most of the facilities in that infamous national for-profit chain tend to be because of the policy to under-staff to increase profits.

Riverside is again facing a wrongful death lawsuit because a resident was neglected and died after the facility failed to take care of her.  An expert affidavit states that based on the medical records of the woman who died, it was documented the woman was at high risk for falls, but the facility’s employees failed to “properly implement fall prevention measures” to keep her safe.

The lawsuit was filed last month and claims a woman was admitted to Riverside Health and Rehab in September 2015.  About a year later, employees at the facility allegedly found her on the floor of her room with a laceration above her right eyebrow.  A couple days later, the resident got a fever and was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with dehydration and severe malnutrition.

A couple days after that, the lawsuit says that woman died as a consequence of the traumatic fall.

Public records from the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control show this facility has a long history of complaints.

In the last five years, people have filed at least 43 complaints against Riverside. That’s more complaints than any other nursing home in Charleston County.

Almost six years ago, nursing home resident Bertha Davis fell and was injured at the Pensacola Health Care Facility. The fall caused a blood vessel to burst and blood to begin pooling in a portion of her brain. As a consequence, Bertha dies 4 days later.  Her three children filed a civil lawsuit against the nursing home’s parent company, SV/Jupiter Properties Inc., doing business as the Pensacola Health Care Facility, and its management company, S/V Home Office Inc.

Recently, a jury returned a verdict ruling that not only did the fall ultimately kill Davis, but that the nursing home was negligent in its care and allowed the fall to occur. The jury also awarded a total of $200,000 to Davis’ children.  It took a long time but justice was done.

 Attorney Samuel Bearman represented the estate of Bertha Davis.

“I think the jury’s ruling was that the nursing home had not done everything that it could have done — and that should have done — to prevent Ms. Davis from falling,” Bearman said. “The nursing home failed to follow its own care plan, designed to prevent Ms. Davis from falling.”

Charlene Hunter James, President of AARP Texas, wrote the following for TribTalk, a publication of the Texas Tribune.

Imagine the horror of living in a deep fog day in and day out. Your steps, if you’re able to walk, are wobbly. Your memories are confused. Your grasp of reality is lost.

And to discover that you’ve been purposefully sedated for no legitimate reason.

Federal reports show that thousands of nursing home residents in Texas are being inappropriately prescribed antipsychotics. They’re not given the drugs because of psychiatric conditions for which they can legitimately be prescribed. Rather, they are being administered for other causes. Sometimes, it’s merely for the convenience of nursing home staff.

It’s called a chemical restraint and it’s akin to the way people were handled in the Dark Ages.

This is a misuse of one of the most powerful classes of psychiatric drugs. For those with dementia, which is not uncommon among nursing home residents, receiving antipsychotics is especially dangerous, even deadly. That’s why the Food and Drug Administration gives these medicines a black-box warning: an alert of an increased risk of death among people with dementia.

No one disputes that providing daily care for nursing home residents is a patience- and stamina-testing ordeal. Attending to these moms, dads, grandparents and other loved ones is a truly honorable profession. Working with those who have Alzheimer’s and other dementia adds greatly to the frustrations.

Through music and memory programs, and other therapies, Texas and some other states have made progress over recent years in reducing inappropriate use of antipsychotics among nursing home residents. But this crisis in care has by no means been eradicated.

So, it’s exasperating that lobbyists for the nursing home and medical industries this legislative session are opposing reasonable proposals to rectify the problem.

Today, the law says that nursing home residents must give consent for antipsychotics to be administered. And yet, all too often, family members of nursing home residents still report a lack of awareness of these drugs being administered. They see sudden and solemn changes in the mental well-being of their loved ones. Later they learn — or come to suspect — a culprit: antipsychotics being administered without their knowledge.

A stronger consent law that would require written consent of a nursing home resident or a legal decision-maker. And that’s essentially what’s offered in Senate Bill 1212 by Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills and House Bill 2050 by Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall.

To improve nursing home safety, please ask your state representative and senator to support those bills.

Disclosure: AARP has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. 

The family of Barbara Jones-Davis is suing Wesley Enhanced Living assisted living facility because the facility’s negligence resulted in their loved one’s death. The resident, who was visually impaired and suffered from dementia, was allowed and able to leave the facility unsupervised and was killed after falling from the second floor onto a sidewalk.

The incident happened July 2018 when Jones-Davis opened an unguarded and unlocked door on the side of the facility and wandered outside alone. The door Jones-Davis used to exit allegedly had an alarm, but surveillance video shows no one from the facility responded to the alarm for 25 minutes  She was outside for 23 minutes until she walked to the edge of the property and fell almost two stories onto the sidewalk. An employee allegedly later closed the door without inspecting the property for any residents who may have left.

Jones-Davis was found alive by a passerby and was taken to the hospital where she later died.  The facility allegedly learned of the incident about an hour later when a nurse was notified.

“Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley and its security contractor, U.S. Security Associates, were both negligent and grossly negligent for failing to put the appropriate systems, processes, and precautions in place to prevent such an event from happening, especially where similar instances involving unsupervised residents who wandered from the facility had occurred previous to this tragedy,” alleges the suit.

Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services say there have been three recent incidents where residents have left the facility unsupervised, according to the lawsuit.

McKnight’s reported on the tragic death of a resident in Minnesota.  The assisted living facility was negligent using a mechanical lift and sling to transfer a vulnerable adult from an electric wheelchair to a bed after the resident sustained a head injury and died two days later. GoldPine Home “failed to adequately train staff, failed to determine the appropriate sling size, and failed to maintain the mechanical lift according to manufacturer’s recommendations,” the Minnesota Department of Health said in a 29-page report issued Dec. 26.

According to the health department report, two unlicensed workers were involved in the Aug. 7 evening transfer of a resident (not identified in the report) who had multiple sclerosis and was taking warfarin, a blood thinner, due to a history of a blood clot. During the transfer, the resident reportedly slipped out of the sling opening, hit his or her head on the leg of the lift and began bleeding from the head.

The resident died in a hospital two days later. “The death certificate indicated that as a consequence of falling from the mechanical lift, s/he died of a traumatic subdural hematoma (burst blood vessel). Contributing factors included warfarin therapy,” the report stated.

During a staff interview, it was determined the preventative maintenance of the mechanical lift had not been performed,” the report said. “There was not a system in place to ensure the appropriate size sling. In addition, staff did not sign off when trained on the mechanical lift policy.”

 

 

The Telegram reported that Beaumont Rehabilitation & Skilled Nursing Center nursing home has agreed to pay $1 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed after a resident died from injuries she suffered in a fall that should and could have been prevented.

Candilou C Hitchcock filed the lawsuit in 2017 after her mother, Betty “Betsy” (Ford) Crane, fell while residing at the nursing home on July 29, 2015, and died Aug. 7 of blunt force head trauma.  Ms. Crane, who suffered from dementia and had a history of at least 21 falls while at the facility, suffered the fatal fall after an employee forgot to turn on the alarm on the woman’s chair to notify staff when she got up.

The nursing home further failed to notify the physician or nurse practitioner, delaying seeking hospital care; and failed to inform the state Department of Public Health as required, Ms. Hitchcock maintained in the lawsuit

 

An assisted-living facility has been found negligent in the death of a woman who hit her head after falling out of a mechanical lift in August. The Minnesota Department of Health reported the incident at GoldPine Home after conducting a visit to the facility in September and completing its report in November.  In its findings, the DOH said “the facility failed to adequately train staff, failed to determine the appropriate sling size, and failed to maintain the mechanical lift according to (the) manufacturer’s recommendations.”

A representative with the Department of Health interviewed the workers involved in the incident on Sept. 13. The department held another interview 11 days later with the facility’s director of nursing, who indicated one of the workers involved with the incident was no longer an employee with GoldPine.

According to the report, the resident who died was in a wheelchair when an unlicensed worker attached the sling of the mechanical lift at about 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 7. Another unlicensed worker came to help transfer the resident from the wheelchair to the bed using the lift.

While they were moving the resident from the wheelchair to the bed, the resident slipped out of the sling and hit her head on the leg of the mechanical lift. The report said the lower half of the resident’s body was still in the sling when she struck her head.

The workers applied pressure to the wound and called for assistance. The resident died two days later after being taken to the emergency room and then to a hospital for care.  The woman’s death certificate listed the cause of death as traumatic subdural hematoma (burst blood vessel) that resulted from the fall.

 

Sonja G. Anderson, as executor of the estate of Delores A. Anderson, filed a complaint in West Virginia against Heritage Center and Genesis Healthcare LLC, alleging violated a nursing home resident’s rights.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that during Delores Anderson’s residency at defendants’ nursing home facility beginning in Dec. 16, 2017, she suffered multiple falls resulting in nondisplaced left inferior and superior pubic rami fractures, multiple left forearm contusions, skin tears and left frontal scalp hematoma. She passed away on March 14, 2018.

The plaintiff holds Heritage Center and Genesis Healthcare LLC responsible because the defendants allegedly failed to provide an environment free from abuse, neglect and mistreatment and free from accident hazards, and failed to provide adequate and appropriate supervision and assistance.

The plaintiff requests a trial by jury and seeks all damages, attorney’s fees, costs and such other relief that is fit to award.