Did A Nursing Home's Lack Of Supervision Lead To Your Loved One's Injury?

Naturally, we believe that caregivers will provide adequate supervision to the elders and disabled persons entrusted to their care. We trust that caregivers will act to promote their patients' safety. Unfortunately, this trust is often misplaced.

Failure to properly supervise an elder or disabled person is particularly dangerous when that individual does not have the ability to ensure his or her own safety. The following are examples of common safety hazards resulting from inadequate supervision:

Wandering Away / Elopement

Without proper supervision, residents with dementia or Alzheimer's disease can wander from a facility and suffer devastating injuries. Sadly, this is not uncommon.

The Gebler Firm, PC, represented the family of an 89-year-old Alzheimer's patient who wandered from a facility in the middle of a cold December night. In 30-degree weather, he slowly shuffled out of the facility wearing only pajama bottoms and one slipper. With emergency alarms sounding, he then opened an exterior gate that activated a second alarm, and continued down the street approximately 300 yards, until he fell into a ravine.

That night, there were only two caregivers on duty in the dementia unit. Allegedly, they were both tending to another resident when they heard the alarms sound, but disregarded them. When they later realized that the resident was missing, one caregiver left the facility to look for him. No one called the police or the family. At approximately 3:30 a.m., a police officer noticed the caregiver make an illegal U-turn as she searched the area in her vehicle. When he pulled her over, he discovered the resident was missing, and the police began to search.

The police finally located the resident barely conscious at the bottom of the ravine. He was transported by ambulance to the hospital, where he remained until he died from pneumonia. Such a tragedy could have been avoided if the facility had simply employed enough caregivers to adequately supervise the residents, and trained them properly.

Choking

Sometimes elders and disabled persons cannot chew their food properly or swallow safely without assistance. The attorneys at The Gebler Firm, PC, handled one case involving a 46-year-old mentally-disabled woman. She lived in a developmental center, and it was impossible for her to swallow anything but pureed food. In addition, she required one-on-one supervision during her meals. The assistant caregiver on duty ignored the care plan and fed the patient french fries mashed with a fork, thinking this was "close enough." The assistant caregiver also left the patient alone while she tried to swallow. Tragically, she inhaled the fries into her airway and began to choke. As emergency room personnel tried to suction the food out of her airway, she went into cardiac arrest and died.

In another case, our investigation revealed that nursing home personnel had repeatedly failed to clean out the feeding tube of a 78-year-old woman who was recovering from a serious fall. As a result, the woman aspirated food into her lungs and choked to death. The emergency room doctors found approximately five days of feedings backed up in the feeding tube.

Falls

Many falls suffered by elders and disabled people can be prevented with proper supervision, but in far too many cases, patients suffer broken bones, brain damage and other injuries due to falls resulting from lack of supervision. The elder neglect lawyers at The Gebler Firm, PC have handled cases involving elders and disabled clients who have:

  • Rolled down a flight of stairs in a wheelchair while at a nursing home.
  • Fallen down steps while wandering from a nursing home at night, unassisted and unsupervised. The patient suffered from severe dementia and was known to have great difficulty walking on uneven surfaces.
  • Fallen out of bed because the staff failed to use the bedrails required under the patient's care plan.
  • Fallen while trying to walk to the bathroom by themselves because facility staff failed to respond to their calls for assistance.

What can I do if I suspect my loved one was injured because he or she was not properly supervised?

If you suspect your loved one was injured or died because he/she was not properly supervised, contact The Gebler Firm, PC, for a free consultation. With offices in Calabasas and Long Beach, we are available to speak with you by phone at 818-876-9600, or you may send us an online consultation request. We proudly represent clients throughout Southern California.

We would be honored to speak with you about your rights, and explain the options that are available. We do not charge any attorney fees unless we obtain a recovery.

We know this is a difficult time, but don't delay. The law limits the amount of time you and your loved one have to pursue legal action. In some cases, this can be as short as six months.

Disclaimer: The information on this site is for informational and educational purposes only. None of the medical information is intended to be a substitute for professional medical judgment. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.