‘Tis the Season for Nursing Home Accidents

Many Virginia families are justifiably shocked when a loved one is injured so quickly after admission to a nursing home or assisted living facility.

We have seen too many cases where someone has been admitted to a facility only to be killed or transferred out within days of admission. Such accidents in Virginia nursing homes are inexcusable if residents receive proper care.

The injuries may include any of the following: fall, wandering, wrong medication, bed sores, fracture, or even assault. Nursing home accidents are a serious problem in facilities that fail to employ enough staff to protect residents.

The holiday season is particularly worrisome for staffing, when many people take time off, cut shifts short, and leave early. You cannot blame anyone for a brief holiday break, but when your job is to care for a vulnerable individual, there are no holidays.

Consider a resident who is on a weekend or late in the evening during the holidays.

There might be no one there to assess their acute needs, and therefore no one to order safety measures to prevent injury, falls, overdoses, and other Virginia nursing home accidents that happen to a resident who has not been properly assessed.

My law partner Dan Frith represented a lovely family under such circumstances. The family went to the nursing home to pick up their loved one for Christmas only to learn that she was gone. The staff assumed she had been checked out by the family. The family denied it and a search began. Tragically, she had been outside and died from the cold.

These kind of mistakes happen more frequently over the holidays, so please, be vigilant.

Let someone know if and when you are taking your loved one home.

When you return home with a loved one, give them a careful evaluation – are there any new injuries? How are they feeling? If possible, have a nurse (not a certified nurse aide!) help you get your loved one situated again. If something happens, ask to speak to the doctor – someone is supposed to be on call!

Let’s all try to enjoy our time together this holiday season, without any accidents or tragic injuries in our local long-term care facilities.

Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.