We recently obtained a very favorable settlement in the case of a 90-year-old female patient who was permitted to fall at a Danville area nursing home. On February 9, 2007 at approximately 10:30 pm, an aide at the nursing home was changing the patient when she permitted the patient to roll out of the bed and fall to the floor. The nursing home documented in its nurse’s notes only that the patient was “found” on the floor. As a result of the fall, the patient sustained an oblique fracture of the right lower leg.
After the fall, the patient was transferred to the hospital, where the fracture was reduced and a long leg fiberglass cast was applied. The patient remained in the long leg cast until July 6, 2007, at which time a short leg fiberglass cast was applied. The patient sustained abrasions to the leg caused by friction from the leg casts. The abrasions took several months to heal. She also suffered swelling of the right lower leg, which required her to keep the leg elevated while in bed. She also developed a pressure ulcer on her right heel from prolonged casting of the fracture. The pressure ulcer required debridement, but ultimately healed with scar tissue.
The leg fracture also caused the patient to endure significant pain. She was medicated with morphine at the hospital. Thereafter, she was prescribed oxycodone for pain. From February 17, 2007 through July 14, 2007, her pain was consistently rated at 4 to 6 on a scale of 10, with 10 being the most severe pain possible.
Due to delayed healing of the fracture and the absence of bone formation at the fracture site, the patient also required the use of a bone stimulator, which she began using on June 23, 2007. The bone stimulator was discontinued on August 7, 2007. The patient’s fracture did not heal radiographically until August 7, 2007.
The patient also remained non-weight bearing on the right leg for four months through June 6, 2007. She was required to wear a fracture boot when being transferred, turned, and repositioned in bed to prevent dislocation of the fracture. Her fracture boot was discontinued on September 14, 2007. The patient died on November 22, 2007 – nine months after the fall – for reasons unrelated to the leg fracture.
The case was settled before trial for six figures. Specifics about the settlement were made confidential at the nursing home’s request.
Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Martinsville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia