Wheelchair Fall Serves as Reminder of Dangers to Florida Nursing Home Residents

Jan 24, 2012 Posted by in Medical Malpractice

On the heels of the recently uncovered nursing home fraud, Florida’s nursing home industry received another blow.  A Pinellas County jury handed down the largest nursing home neglect verdict in Florida history.  The $200 million verdict was awarded to the family of a 92-year-old woman who was found dead at the bottom of a stairwell at Pinellas Park Care and Rehabilitation Center in Pinellas County, Florida in 2004. 

The case was tragic on many levels –the woman fell down an open emergency exit stairwell, it took an hour before staff even noticed she was gone, and she was still strapped in her wheelchair at the bottom of the steps. She died shortly before the paramedics arrived. 

Trans Health Management Inc., which oversaw the nursing home at the time of the accident, did not present a defense in the case. Former aides claimed the nursing home was often understaffed, and the facility had a history of deficiency citations and abuse complaints, according to news reports

In a previous article, our nursing home neglect attorneys reported that researchers found that inadequate staffing correlated to inadequate care for Florida nursing home residents. According to a study, the authors found that an increase in nurse staffing hours was associated with improved quality of carein Florida nursing homes. 

Additional safeguards must be put in place to protect all nursing home residents from any type of fall.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 20 percent of all older adults who fracture a hip die within a year and 25 percent of all fallers are placed in nursing homes within a year. Additionally, 25 percent of nursing home residents who fall die within a year.  The CDC estimates 1,800 people living in nursing homes die each year from falls. 

Following are interventions that should be in place at nursing homes to help prevent falls: 

  • Floors should be dry and should have a non-slip surface.
  • Hallways and pathways to the restroom should be free of obstacles and properly lighted.
  • Nursing home rooms should be equipped with grab bars, raised toilet seats and lowered bed and chair heights. 
  • Handrails or grab bars should be available along the hallways.
  • Medication may cause dizziness or weakness.  A patient’s medication should be given during an appropriate time.
  • All stairwells should be properly safeguarded. 

If you have a loved one in a South Florida nursing home, make sure proper safeguards are in place to help prevent falls.  Our Treasure Coast nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys realize that at times our most vulnerable population, who are expecting care and support, may be in dangerous environments.  And we believe those that are charged with their care should be held accountable if they are negligent in their duties.

Contact a Trusted South Florida Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect Attorney

If you suspect that a loved one has been harmed due to abuse or neglect in a Florida nursing home, a South Florida nursing home abuse attorney with more than 36 years of legal experience can evaluate the circumstances of their injuries and advise you on your legal options. I am attorney Philip DeBerard, Injury Lawyer. My legal practice concentrates on representing victims of serious accidents and injuries caused by the negligence of others, including medical malpractice and nursing home neglect and abuse.

Our law firm represents victims of nursing home abuse and neglect across South Florida, including StuartPort St. LucieOkeechobeeFort PierceJupiter, Palm Beach and Vero Beach and throughout South Florida and the Treasure Coast. Call 1-800-299-8878 now to speak with a knowledgeable Florida nursing home abuse attorney or fill out our online contact form.

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