Falls in nursing homes are not all that uncommon, but they are generally preventable – particularly when they involve a patient falling out of a window.
According to The Bangor Daily News, state health officials in Frenchville launched an investigation into a nursing home in late November, following the death of an elderly female resident who apparently suffered a fall from second-story window of the facility Nov. 14. She died at a nearby hospital.
In following up with the center just five and six days later, state investigators witnessed a series of deficiencies in care that rose to the level of serious, meaning patients at the site were deemed to be in immediate danger.
Our Bangor nursing home neglect attorneys recognize all too often, safety concerns and serious dangers are not uncovered until something tragic occurs. A patient’s greatest advocates are family and friends who come to visit. It’s imperative they speak up if something doesn’t seem right. If injury results, seek legal counsel to explore your options.
In this case, employees at the center in question reportedly noted the woman was missing from her room sometime around 8 p.m. A search was conducted, with employees finally realizing a door to a nursing office had been locked from the inside. Someone retrieved a key, and when they entered, they found an empty wheelchair in front of an open window. The office was on the second floor.
The patient was discovered lying on the pavement, some 12 feet below the window. An emergency medical crew was summoned and transported the woman to a nearby hospital, where she died of massive head trauma.
Investigators noted an employee took an air conditioning unit out of that window several weeks earlier. However, the worker failed to replace a screen and one of the pins to ensure the window was secure. Investigators determined this was an indication workers failed to make sure all modes of egress accessible to residents was properly secured.
Even though this was an employee office where patients were not expected to be present, they clearly had means to enter. What’s more, patients with dementia are known to “wander” into areas or places where they aren’t necessarily designated to be. This patient in particular had a known history of such behavior. In fact, before this incident, she previously left the building on two other occasions. Another time, she was nearly successful in exiting the building through an open dining room window.
In order to avoid suspension or termination from Medicare and Medicaid programs, the facility has been ordered to adhere to a correction plan, which will involve keeping nursing doors locked after hours and developing new care plans for those patients known to be at risk of “elopement” or wandering.
The nursing home maintains the efforts requested by the state would likely not have had an impact on the outcome of this particular situation, but expressed a willingness to implement what they called “simple remedies.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 1,800 nursing home residents die every year in the U.S. due to fall-related injuries. Even those who survive are often left with disabilities that are permanent or significantly reduce their quality of life.
Many complaints of abuse and neglect of nursing home residents are made in December and January, as this is when many family members make a point to spend more time with loved ones for the holidays.
If you are concerned about a case of potential nursing home neglect in Bangor, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Safety studied at Frenchville nursing home after resident dies after fall from window, Dec. 4, 2014, By Jessica Potila, Bangor Daily News
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