IDPH has cited and fined Oregon Living & Rehab Center nursing home after a resident there sustained an unexplained fracture of the humerus.
Many nursing home residents, especially females, suffer from osteoporosis, or “brittle bone disease” which leaves them at greater risk for injuries such as hip fractures after nursing home falls. Other common injuries associated with osteoporosis include compression fractures of the lower and mid-back and broken wrists. But there are some fractures which occur which really cannot be explained at all, and that was the case here.
The resident at issue suffered from advanced dementia. She also had a history of having two failed hip replacements, so she did not have functioning hip joints. She required the assistance of two for all transfers and activities of daily living. In short, she was dependent on staff for doing any kind of movement at all.
The injury was discovered when an aide went to her room to begin to prepare her for bed. He saw that they entire arm was bruised up through the back of her neck and that the there was an indentation pushing out against the skin of her arm. X-rays were obtained which showed that she had a comminuted (broken in at least two places) fracture of the humerus, or upper bone in the arm. Her orthopaedic surgeon told the state surveyor that the fracture was likely traumatic in nature given that the bruising extended all the way to the back of her neck.
So how did it happen? The nursing home investigated, and everyone denied doing anything that could have caused the injury, which is of course completely inconsistent with the nature of the injury and the residents own physical limitations. In the words of the nurse assigned to the resident, “I’m furious because somebody knows what happened.”
There is actually a doctrine in the law called res ipsa loquitur which can be used in cases like this. In Latina, res ipsa loquitur means “the thing speaks for itself” which requires the injured party to show that there was an injury which would not have occurred in the absence of negligence, and this is the kind of injury that would likely qualify. Clearly bones like the humerus do not simply shatter in the way that happened here which would make that theory of liability applicable under these circumstances.
So what was the consequence of this injury? This resident was on hospice, but was actually going to be discharged from hospice because her condition was not declining, but after the fracture, the nurse assigned to her advised the state surveyor that she expected a decline in the resident’s condition, similar to that which you might see after a hip fracture.
One of our core beliefs is that nursing homes are built to fail due to the business model they follow and that unnecessary accidental injuries and wrongful deaths of nursing home residents are the inevitable result. Order our FREE report, Built to Fail, to learn more about why. Our experienced Chicago nursing home lawyers are ready to help you understand what happened, why, and what your rights are. Contact us to get the help you need.
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