Veteran’s Family Files Elder Abuse Claim Against VA Hospital

brian-erickson-204442-copy-300x169Residents of Poway should be aware of recent elder abuse allegations against a California VA hospital. According to a recent report from NBC News Los Angeles, a navy veteran’s family has filed an elder abuse and neglect claim against a Palo Alto veterans’ hospital following the veteran’s death. The report cites the family’s lawsuit, which alleges that the victim, Douglas Wayne Ross, died after sustaining a traumatic brain injury as a result of a fall. The family contends that “he was in need of continuous care and was left alone for too long.”

Details of the Lawsuit in California

How did the patient’s death occur? According to the report, 72-year-old Ross was admitted to the VA hospital in Palo Alto in spring 2016 for surgery. The surgery was supposed to “restore blood flow to his lower body.” After the first surgery, the patient suffered a heart attack. He remained at the hospital to recover, during which time he required continuous care. More specifically, the lawsuit alleges that he required “dialysis and blood thinners and was designated a high risk for falling down.”

The family indicated that the hospital staff left Ross “unattended and unrestrained,” which led to the deadly fall. The Department of Veterans Affairs responded to the lawsuit by arguing that it “conducted its own investigation and declared no breach of care led to harm,” and that “no wrongful act by any employee” had occurred. The report notes that this is not the first patient issue to arise at VA Palo Alto, which is “already trying to repair damage to its reputation from previous highly publicized problems.”

Learning More About Fall Risks and Elder Neglect

We will need to wait and see how the lawsuit plays out. In the meantime, what should you know about fall-related injuries among the elderly? A fact sheet from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) explains that “falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans,” and that falls “threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs.”

When elderly patients are not properly monitored, elder neglect can result in serious and fatal falls, as in the case we discussed above. The NCOA cites the following facts and figures about seniors and falls:

  • Around 25% of Americans aged 65 and older fall each year;
  • An older adult is treated in an emergency room every 11 seconds for a fall-related injury, and every 19 minutes an older adults suffers fatal injuries in a fall;
  • Falls are the most common cause of fatal unintentional injury among seniors;
  • Falls lead to more than 2.8 million injuries every year and more than 27,000 fatalities; and
  • The total financial costs of fall-related injuries was $34 billion in 2013, and that number is expected to reach more than $67 billion by 2020 as the aging population increases.

Seek Advice from a Poway Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

If someone you love is receiving treatment at a hospital and that person requires extensive care, you should learn more about the signs of elder abuse and neglect. While many hospitals in California provide excellent care to elderly patients, neglect can occur at almost any facility, and it is important to be aware of the risks. A Poway nursing home abuse attorney can help. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information.

See Related Blog Posts:

Shortage of Home Health Aides in Vista

Nursing Home Neglect in Carlsbad and the Link Between Sedatives and Pneumonia

(image courtesy of Brian Erickson)

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