Broken Leg in Nursing Homes

There are millions of people who break a bone every year. For most, they receive treatment, and the bone eventually heals. For others, especially the elderly, a broken bone can have devastating consequences on their health. Broken bones in nursing homes do occur, and depending on the circumstances, it can result in fines or additional intervention.

Cases of Broken Bones

One example of this is seen in Connecticut, where one nursing home received $2,740 in fines due to a resident breaking a leg. In this case, the resident spent eight hours moaning and showing signs of pain before staff finally notified a physician. Additionally, there was no documentation of any assessment of the patient after the initial signs of pain were noticed, and the emergency room visit occurred ten hours after the initial signs of unrelenting pain.

Another patient in a nursing home in California who was confined to a wheelchair was admitted to the hospital after it was discovered that the patient’s thighbone was broken. The patient died due to cardiac distress several days later, which was attributed to the broken leg. The nursing home claimed that the bone broke spontaneously, which was ignored by officials. After the situation was evaluated, the nursing home was fined $100,000 and issued an AA citation.

Perhaps one of the worst situations in which a broken leg was ignored was in Canada, when a woman’s pain was ignored for 24 days. The patient fell out of her wheelchair, which caused her to cry out in pain. After 24 days of pleading from the patient and her daughter, due to the leg being swollen and discolored on top of the pain, the facility finally took her to a hospital where it was determined that her tibia was broken.

F-Tag 309 Quality of Care

In the United States, every nursing home must follow certain protocols when an accident or fall occurs. First, there must be an assessment of the resident to determine whether any injuries are present. If an injury occurs, the staff must alert the physician immediately so that proper care can be obtained. After the physical assessment by a physician, pain medication is required as soon as possible to ensure compliance with F-Tag 309, which states:

“Each resident must receive and the facility shall provide the necessary care and services to attain or maintain the highest practiceable physical, mental and psychological well-being, in accordance with the comprehensive assessment and plan of care.”

Pain Recognition and Management

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have established guidelines to assist nursing home staff in ensuring that residents maintain or attain the highest level of well-being, and to manage or prevent pain. These are:

  • Identifying situations in which pain may occur and recognizing when a resident is showing signs of pain
  • Evaluating the pain when present, as well as the cause to the best of their abilities
  • Pain management and prevention to the greatest extent in a manner that is consistent with current standards, the resident’s plan of care and assessment, and the resident’s goals

These goals are in place to prevent the situations mentioned above, but obviously, that does not always happen. In some situations, the nursing home staff’s failure to follow the regulations can be a minor violation. However, in situations where the patient suffers needlessly without medical attention, the violations go much farther, and erode quality of life and display an utter lack of compassion for the elderly residents.

If you believe neglect or abuse has occurred and resulted in your loved one’s broken leg, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible so that the situation can be assessed.

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