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Wrongful death: Nursing home cited in resident's death

Developments in medical technology have significantly improved the quality of care that patients -- including nursing home residents -- receive. In order to ensure that patients in New Jersey and across the country do not suffer further harm through the use of such technologies, facilities must ensure that staff members are properly trained on their use. Unfortunately, a recent report by a Department of Health in another state claims that one nursing home failed to do just that, which resulted in injuries that contributed to a woman's death. The family has the option of filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

The incident happened on a day in late Dec. 2016. According to reports, the woman -- identified as an 83-year-old by her family members -- was placed in a lift by staff members to allow her to use a mobile toilet. Staff members, reportedly to allow the woman some privacy, left her alone in the room. They soon heard screams of pain.

Reports indicate that staff members failed to lock the wheels of the mobile toilet in place, causing it to roll away. As a result, the resident fell, resulting in two broken legs. She spent a few days at the hospital before returning to the nursing home. She passed away soon after. Her cause of death was listed as a stroke, but, according to her death certificate, her injuries played a significant role in her death.

Since her fall, the home has instituted new procedures, including adding stickers to lifts, advising staff not to leave patients alone, as well as adding reminders on mobile toilets about the necessity of locking their wheels. While these are changes that are important to prevent similar incidents in the future, they will do little to help the family manage the consequences of their loved one's death. To help manage the financial consequences of a fatality caused by negligence, many in New Jersey choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If negligence can be proved, families could receive an award of damages to help them cope with funeral costs and other expenses associated with the loss of their loved one.

Source: startribune.com, "Nursing home cited in death of unattended resident injured while dangling from lift", Paul Walsh, May 18, 2017

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