Earlier this month, a Missouri medical malpractice jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff in a medical malpractice case that alleged that an 88-year-old woman who was a resident of a Missouri nursing home was left unattended and standing alone in her room after an aide helped her with a shower despite the woman having been documented to be at extreme risk for falling.
The woman, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, fell and fractured her right hip, which the aide failed to report to the nursing home. The woman received no medical diagnosis or treatment for 19 hours after her fall and hip fracture. She died six days later as a result of complications from her hip fracture. The woman’s surviving son was the plaintiff in the medical malpractice lawsuit filed in Missouri state court against the nursing home.
The nursing home offered the plaintiff $15,000 before trial to settle the medical malpractice claim. The plaintiff’s medical malpractice attorneys asked the jury to award the plaintiff $450,000. The jury returned its verdict in the amount of $1.5 million, which included $150,000 for future non-economic damages awarded to the woman’s son for his mental anguish, etc., due to his mother’s death and $1.35 million for the woman’s non-economic damages for the six-day period between her fall and her death on September 28, 2007.
Nursing homes are required to evaluate their residents upon their admissions into the nursing homes, upon changes in their physical or mental conditions, and periodically thereafter in order to determine if they are at risk for falling and the extent of the risk. Changes in medical conditions, including physical changes due to the progression of diseases and changes in medications that may cause changes in mental alertness, drowsiness, or weakness may cause patients to become fall risks when they previously were not assessed as fall risks, or their risks for falling may increase substantially due to changing circumstances.
In the case of the 88-year-old Missouri woman, it appears that she had been identified by the nursing home as being at “extreme risk” for falling, which should have been known to the aide who was assisting her with her shower (nursing home residents’ medical records would document their risks for falling and those residents who have been identified as fall risks often have signs placed in their rooms (typically above their beds) warning caregivers that the residents have been identified as being at risk for falls so that proper precautions can be taken).
It has not been reported why the aide allegedly left the woman standing alone in her room or how long the woman was left unattended. It is also unknown how long the woman remained standing before she apparently fell to the floor and fractured her hip.
If medical malpractice that occurred in a nursing home (including nursing home neglect or nursing home abuse) may be the cause of your injuries or the injuries suffered by a family member or a friend, then the advice from a local medical malpractice attorney may help you decide if a medical malpractice claim should be filed.
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