Reports recently released by staff of the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee document that 30% of the nation’s 5,283 nursing homes have had reported instances of abuse and neglect during the most recent two-year period. Elder abuse is often under-reported, or not reported at all, but the investigation still revealed a staggering 9,000 reported instances of abuse. Abuse can take many forms, one of which is neglect. A nursing home facility may be liable for the injuries that happen to patients in their care if those injuries occurred because of the facility’s lack of supervision or oversight.
One of the most common forms of injuries are falling injuries. While a simple tumble or fall may be a minor inconvenience or injury to most, to the aged or disabled a fall can have extremely harmful results. Since most elder facility residents often have difficulty with mobility and independent movement, staff and facilities are required to be highly attentive to how and when patients are moving on their own.
One Massachusetts family filed a wrongful death lawsuit after they allege the nursing home facility in charge of their father failed to properly supervise him and prevent injuries that ultimately took his life. The man was admitted by his family after they could no longer care for him themselves; they placed him in a facility that specialized in geriatric patients with multiple needs. The man was classified as high risk for fall injuries, so the facility said that they were going to implement a care plan to reduce the risk of him falling.
Less than a month after being admitted, however, the man fell twice in a one week time period. The plan the facility designed called for a chair alarm that would alert staff whenever the man got up, but reportedly no such alarm was ever implemented, nor was any alternative system used. Two weeks after the second fall, the man had a third fall getting out of his chair, and struck his head on the floor and had to be rushed to the Boston Medical Center. After going to the hospital, the man’s condition continued to worsen and he was diagnosed with subarachnoid hemorrhage that resulted from his third fall. The man ultimately died as a result of his injuries a few weeks later.
The family brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home alleging that their failure to properly supervise and monitor the man resulted in the injuries that caused his death. The family’s attorneys, Dino Colucci and Danielle White, also argued that due to the egregious nature of the facility’s conduct, punitive damages should be awarded. Punitive damages are extraordinary damages and may sometimes be awarded to punish the defendant and deter others from doing similar actions in the future. The court agreed and ordered the nursing home facility to pay the man’s family $1.1 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
If you believe a family member has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, call us 24/7 at 617-787-3700 for a free and private consultation with our Boston nursing home abuse attorneys. Time may be a factor, so please call us today!