The Albany Times Union reported recently that a licensed practical nurse at a local nursing home had been charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetant or physically disabled person, as well as violating public health laws, for allegedly failing to report that an 89 year old patient had fallen. According to the story the Nurse is alleged to have found the patient on the floor, picked her up and helped her to a wheelchair, and elected not to make a report.
Aside from hosptial regulations, which almost certainly required reporting in this situation, the New York State Public Health Law requires that incidents such as this be reported. In fact, the failure to do so can result in liability under the law, occassionally in the form of punitive damages (punishing the wrongdoer).
To the casual reader this may seem like a flash in the pan story, however for us this is something that we see with concerning frequency. At D'Orazio Peterson we have represented family members of elderly patients who fell, suffered serious injuries, and were either left unattended or simply picked up and put back into bed without any report having been made. The response is often a suggestion by the nursing home that there was no harm, because the patient was not hurt, however we have represented clients in situations where the patient was in fact severely injured.
In one instance a client was left on the floor for nearly an hour before a staff member came in and brought her to her bed. She was then left, and only when her family came the following morning did anyone notice that she had blood about her face and mouth, as well as a fractured hip. No report was made.
As we have said many times before, patients and their families truly have to serve as their own advocates in the hospital and nursing home setting. Unfortunately this is often quite difficult, as elderly patients are already in compromised positions. The law in New York protects patients of nursing homes, however, from this sort of neglect, and it is important that the patient or his or her family member take measures to ensure that the facility is held accountable for its conduct.
If you have questions about hospital or nursing home care give us a call. We are always happy to help.
Scott Peterson by Scott Peterson | | Connect with me:
Representing plaintiffs in employment and serious injury matters.