$1.1 million damage award follows video of nursing negligence

Home health care providers are under the same obligations as staff members in Chicago hospitals to provide quality patient care. The at-home caregivers may have an easier time hiding life-threatening mistakes than in large medical facilities. Home health employees frequently work alone with patients.

A severely disabled man died after he suffered complications from a fractured hip. The quadriplegic patient, who was struck by lightning as a teenager, was unable to speak. According to a wrongful death lawsuit, the man couldn’t cry out when a home health physical therapist allowed the patient to fall.

A surveillance camera showed a jury what happened during the 2012 therapy session. The patient was sitting on a massage table, supported by the massage therapist. The home health worker let go of the patient briefly to take hold of a television remote control. The disabled patient fell to the floor.

The worker picked up the man and continued the therapy session, unaware of the tremendous pain the patient was experiencing. The fall had broken the patient’s hip, which was never noticed by the LPN. The patient later died from complications after surgery.

A state nursing board later faulted the nurse for several nursing errors. He did not correctly assess the damage after the fall, log the incident or report it to the patient’s family. The caregiver’s nursing license was suspended.

A judge recently determined the wrongful death claim was valid. Damages in excess of $1.1 million were awarded to the patient’s mother. A large part of the award – $700,000 – was designated for the patient’s pain and suffering before death.

An unsupervised environment can invite medical errors that can be hidden. A sick, mentally-incapacitated or elderly patient can be injured or die, without anyone thinking the reason for harm is a caregiver’s mistake. It’s easy to blame a health condition when the patient cannot dispute it.

fox6now.com, “Mom says $1.1M award is “justice” for dead son” Bryan Polcyn, Oct. 02, 2013

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$1.1 million damage award follows video of nursing negligence