A resident of the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society nursing home in Keosauqua, Iowa died after experiencing a nursing home fall. By itself, that development is noteworthy and cause for alarm. Nursing home falls, unlike many slip and fall accidents, are often predictable and usually preventable in a skilled nursing home setting.
What makes this particular case truly stunning is the number of falls that took place prior to the woman’s death. According to the McKnights article, the resident fell 50 times in less than a year. The lawsuit brought by the family of the victim claims that the nursing home didn’t provide a safe environment and did not notify the family about the nursing home falls in a timely fashion.
The article goes on to note that one nursing assistant and one nurse were on site to care for 17 residents at the time of the resident’s final fall which ultimately proved fatal.
Staffing standards are tricky and vary wildly from state to state. It’s possible that the nursing home was meeting the Iowa minimum standards depending on the time when the final fall occurred.
Minimum standards are minimum, however. The minimum standard for a passing grade in a class is a D-, but no one would think that was a grade that someone should aspire to. Clearly, there were not enough staff present to prevent the multitude of falls that eventually caused the death of the resident.
Nursing homes have an obligation to protect and care for the residents who live there, not to merely meet the absolute minimum standards required to stay in business. That’s why the civil legal system exists.