A jury in the state of Virginia delivered a $6.5 million dollar verdict in a nursing home fall case. The Stanleytown Health Care Center is owned by Medical Facilities Inc, a Roanoke Virginia based company that owns and operates 31 Virginia nursing homes.
The victim in the case was receiving therapy following a stroke. She fell and broke her arm, shoulder, and hip. She is now permanently impaired.
A bed alarm is a device that alerts staff when a resident is shifting or moving in such a manner as to indicate that they are going to fall or attempt to exit the bed.
It’s fairly common for people in nursing homes to be distracted or alarmed upon wakening. For many, the sights and sounds of a nursing home can be disorienting and frightening. There’s an overwhelming instinct to get to your feet and nursing home falls often result.
This is precisely why bed alarms exist, and why physicians order them. For nursing home administration, however, bed alarms are problematic. By their nature, they produce a lot of false alarms. The cost of those alarms, nursing homes claim, is prohibitive. During the trial, the plaintiff’s lawyers showed that the nursing home was not adequately staffed to prevent nursing home falls.
In the case at Stanleytown Health Care Center, nursing home staff repeatedly stated that there was a bed alarm on the victim’s bed to prevent nursing home falls. Family members denied ever seeing a bed alarm. Emergency medical personnel who arrived on the scene to tend to the victim also denied there was a bed alarm present. Medical Facilities Inc. was instructing their facilities to avoid bed alarms. They claimed the alarms were the equivalent of “restraints.”
The false claims made by the nursing home and its representatives clearly angered the jury. There are 31 nursing homes being operated by Medical Facilities, Inc. Hopefully, they now realize that it doesn’t pay to cut corners when it comes to care.