Nursing home negligence caught on tape

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Jun 11, 2012 in Nursing Home Information

Should an elderly dementia patient be allowed to lie on the floor in the middle of a hallway for nearly an hour without receiving any help from nursing home staff members? No, you say -- okay then, what if that same patient had a habit of lying on the floor and a history of being combative? Still, no? What if staff members called over to ask the patient if she was okay and the patient said yes -- would it still be okay for her to be allowed to just lie there in the middle of common hallway? Lastly, would knowing that the woman was lying there because she fell and suffered a head injury change your answer in the least?

This example of nursing home negligence really happened, and it was all caught on tape. And while it didn't occur in a West Virginia facility, similar incidents have occurred here and are likely to happen again given the way many nursing homes are run.

Setting aside for a moment the question of whether nursing home staff members should take the answers of a dementia patient at face value, the video obtained by Iowa state authorities reportedly shows the woman lying on the floor for 48 minutes while staff members were having a Christmas party.

State inspectors say that although no staff members appear to have witnessed the fall, at least two staffers showed up at a nearby nurse's station within seconds of the incident and had a clear view of where the woman was lying. Over the next 48 minutes, the tape shows two workers asking the woman if she was "okay" without offering any assistance and a third staffer who simply seemed to ignore her. At the 46 minute mark, a fourth worker noticed the woman. A few minutes later, three staffers approached her and carried her off to her bed without checking her for any injuries.

And finally, a little over an hour after that -- staff members took the woman to a local emergency room where she was treated for a laceration on the back of her head, which hospital personnel later closed with four staples.

The owners and administrators of this Iowa nursing home have denied any negligence and say the video was taken out of context. This was not an isolated incident, however. In fact, it was the fourth incident involving negligence and patient safety concerns that the facility has been fined for this year.

Source: Herald-Index, "Care center allegedly left resident on floor," Clark Kauffman, May 16, 2012

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