Whether you have an elderly loved one in a Vista nursing home or in a skilled nursing facility elsewhere in California, it is important to understand the risk of serious falls as a result of nursing home negligence. We often think of nursing home abuse in terms of intentionally harmful behavior toward nursing home residents, yet many seniors get hurt because facilities are understaffed and nursing home neglect leads to serious and sometimes fatal injuries. According to a recent report in The Daily Journal, a California assisted-living facility is facing lawsuits after the deaths of two patients from falls last year. The family members allege that the facility was understaffed and that the falls resulted from nursing home negligence.
We want to discuss the recent case with you and then talk through some ways to prevent senior falls in nursing homes.
Assisted-Living Facility Faces Lawsuits for Fall-Related Fatalities
According to the article, an assisted-living facility in Foster City is facing two lawsuits initiated by the families of two former residents who died after suffering fall-related injuries last year. The facility, Atria Foster Square, is one of many facilities that are operated by Atria Senior Living in California and throughout the country. There are 37 senior living communities in the state operated by Atria Senior Living. How did the recent deaths occur?
The families indicate that the victims, Eleanor Abrams, 96, and Dorothy Fraser, 88, were both admitted to the facility with the full understanding that they were at risk for fall-related injuries. Both seniors had “a fall risk with a history of falling,” and the families allege that the facility knew the residents “would require extensive assistance and routine monitoring.”
The lawsuit filed by the Fraser family alleges that Dorothy Fraser first fell in September 2017 while returning to her room from lunch. Two days later, she fell a second time after being left unattended in the shower. The second fall resulted in a fatal traumatic brain injury. The Abrams family lawsuit alleges that Eleanor fell four times at the facility. After the fourth fall, the lawsuit alleges that she “was taken to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a left femoral neck fracture, close to the hip.” Due to her injuries, Eleanor was placed in hospice and died two weeks later.
Preventing Falls in Nursing Homes and Assisted-Living Facilities
Nursing homes and assisted-living facilities have a duty to patients who are at heightened risk of falls. When facilities fail to provide adequate care, they may be liable for nursing home neglect. What should skilled nursing facilities do to prevent falls in addition to proper staffing? The National Council on Aging (NCOA) recommends the following:
- Understand and discuss the senior’s health conditions, which could lead to increased fall risks;
- Ensure that patients wear prescription eyeglasses if they need them;
- Recognize signs of fall risks, such as holding on walls or furniture, or difficulty walking, and increase staffing and/or walking aids;
- Review medications that could increase the risk of a fall; and
- Assess the living area for fall-related risks.
Contact a Vista Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
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(image courtesy of Jyotirmoy Gupta)