IDPH has cited and fined Bria of Smithton nursing home after a resident there suffered a fractured hip after being pushed down for the second time by a fellow resident.
One of the basic expectations that families have when they admit a loved one to a nursing home is that their loved one will be kept safe from violence or what would be criminal behavior elsewhere. In fact, the risk of being exposed to criminal behavior is one of the reasons that IDPH fines nursing homes when residents wander from their nursing home (this is technically referred to as “elopement“). Sadly, nursing home residents are at times the victims of criminal behavior by staff or more often, the victims of assaults by fellow residents, as was the case here.
The most common scenario in which this occurs is that the assailant suffers from some form of mental illness or other behavior disorder and acts out physically against the victim. It often follows periods of noncompliance with psychiatric medications. Nursing homes have an obligation to keep their residents safe from abuse. In the context of nursing homes, “abuse” includes actions taken by fellow residents. This is usually addressed through the care planning process – both for the victim and the perpetrator.
Here, the assailant had a well-documented history of mental illness, including diagnoses of psychotic disturbances, mood disturbances and anxiety, major depressive disorder, and schizophrenia. He had been noncompliant with orders for psychiatric medications and had refused psychiatric for several months before the incident at issue. He liked to stay in his room and felt threatened when others came into it. In the words of the family, “He does not play well with others.”
There were at least two prior incidents of physical aggression by the assailant described in the citation. In one, he hit the social services director while she was attempting to perform an assessment on him. In the other, four weeks before the incident at issue, the victim in this case entered the assailants room and was pushed out of the room and to the floor in the hallway. Following this incident, he was placed on 1:1 supervision by staff. However, it was stopped before the date of this incident. The resident medical chart did not document when or why it was terminated and the resident care plan was not updated to address this act of aggression against a fellow resident.
On the day of this nursing home fall, the assailant emerged from his room to return his meal tray to the kitchen. The victim was nearby. The assailant began yelling, threw his tray to the floor, and pushed the victim to the floor. As a result of this assault, the victim suffered a fractured hip which required surgical repair.
The nursing home was well aware of the propensities of the assailant for physical aggression. He had previously assaulted both the victim here and a member of the staff. They were further aware that he was noncompliant with his medications and psychiatric care, so there was no chance that his behavior could be modified through therapy. This meant that it had to be addressed through the care planning process and that all of the staff needed to be made aware of the potential for acting out when the assailant was out of his room as well as when others entered his room. The failure of the nursing home address this known risk led directly to the injuries sustained by the victim.
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.
Other blog posts of interest:
Resident sexually assaulted by fellow resident at Dixon Rehab
Assault by fellow resident leads to broken hip at Stephenson Nursing Center
Multiple residents victimized by fellow resident at Winning Wheels
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