(727) 895-5399 p.giroux@verizon.net

Part 3 of 5 – Not deemed to be a high fall risk

About 2 ½ months after Plaintiff fell, Defendant’s staff completed a Quarterly Resident Data Set dated 10/22/09. A fall risk assessment was also completed, but incorrectly. Under the category “any falls in the past 3 months”, staff assigned Plaintiff zero points, when in fact she had fallen just 2 months earlier (i.e. the fall in her bathroom discussed above), which would have added 2 points to the assessment. Further, under the category “predisposing diseases,” one of which was “fractures,” staff again assigned zero points, when in fact Plaintiff had two fractures in her left arm/wrist as a result of the fall in her bathroom, which would have added another two points to the assessment. Because of these errors on the part of staff, Plaintiff was not deemed to be a high fall risk, when she should have been. As a result, the care plan interventions that staff developed for fall risk failed to adequately address Plaintiff’s high risk of falling. Not surprisingly, Plaintiff fell again at Defendant’s facility on February 6, 2010. She was found on the floor of her room next to her rolling walker. According to the staff, she purportedly suffered no injuries and was not in any pain. Plaintiff fell again on 3/1/11 and again on 3/2/11. According to the staff, she purportedly suffered no injury from these falls either. However, the extent to which these falls aggravated Plaintiff’s fractures in her left arm/wrist is still being investigated. Thus, even after her first fall and resulting injuries, Defendant’s staff still was not properly addressing the Plaintiff’s high fall risk.

In addition to the 8/6/09 fall and the resulting permanent deformity of Plaintiff’s wrist, which she had to live with for the rest of her life, the Defendant is also responsible for the Plaintiff’s untimely death. For several weeks prior to her discharge from Defendant’s facility, Plaintiff had been complaining of abdominal pain and also of constipation, her abdomen was bloated, and she was continually vomiting—all classic symptoms of bowel obstruction, which the Defendant’s staff knew or should have known. Defendant’s staff, however, failed to timely and properly address Plaintiff’s bowel obstruction symptoms, even when Plaintiff’s son repeatedly advised the staff over several weeks of his mother’s continuing symptoms. Instead of sending Plaintiff to the hospital for evaluation, the staff’s response was to give her medication for the constipation and “monitor” her. Additionally, the staff failed to notify Plaintiff’s physician of her recurring small bowel obstruction symptoms. In bowel obstruction cases, timely diagnosis is essential to successful treatment. Plaintiff’s bowel obstruction symptoms, however, were not timely diagnosed or treated due to the failures of the Defendant’s staff. Instead, Plaintiff died just six days after her admission to the hospital; according to her death certificate, the cause of death was “acute small bowel obstruction.”

Continue reading: Part 4 of 5 – Failure to Adequately Monitor >>