Nursing Home Death Lawsuit: $2 Million Settlement
2020 Medical Malpractice Case Report
By Attorney Robert M. Higgins
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Improper bed rails at nursing home results in death of 84-year-old man from strangulation
The decedent was an 84-year-old man who died in August 2017 at the nursing home where he had lived since 2014 for advanced dementia.
His bed at the facility had improper bed rails. At the time of his death, the space between the rails and the mattress was 7 inches. The space allowed per FDA regulations was 2 3/8 inches. Failure to have proper spacing allowed for patients to slide down in between the mattress and rails and become trapped. The facility was aware of the problems with bed rails as another patient had become entrapped one month prior to the decedent’s death.
On the morning of 8/15/17, a CNA found him lying in bed with his legs hanging off the bed from approximately mid-thigh down. His head was twisted sideways and to the right in between the bottom of the side rail and the frame of the bed, and he appeared deceased based on the color and temperature of his skin. A golf ball sized pool of saliva was found on the floor underneath the decedent’s mouth and his right hand was holding on to the side rail. He had no pulse and was pronounced dead shortly after being discovered.
When the facility contacted the medical examiner’s office, they falsely reported that the decedent had dies of cardiac arrest from hypertension. There was no mention of the fact that he had been found with his head entrapped between the bed rails. An investigation was undertaken by state officials and the facility was cited for numerous violations related to the bed rail safety of the decedent and their use at this particular nursing home. It was found that 173 of the 176 bed were using improper bed rails.
The plaintiff retained an expert who was of the opinion that the facility was negligent in failing to use bed rails properly. He also was critical of the nursing home’s failure to properly report the decedent’s death to the medical examiner. It was the expert’s medical opinion that the cause of death was acute bed rail strangulation.
The case settled for $2,000,000 after a pre-litigation mediation.
The plaintiffs were represented by medical malpractice attorneys Andrew C. Meyer Jr. and Robert M. Higgins.
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