Our firm, Leitner Varughese, is increasingly being approached by families of New York nursing home residents with stories of their elderly relatives being found with serious injuries, such as fractured legs or femurs, fractured hips, head injuries, brain bleeds, broken bones, and other injuries, and the nursing home claiming that the resident was just found like that. Nobody knows what happened. Everyone denies that it happened on their shift or under their watch.
The families tried to get answers from the nursing staff, the aides that were on duty at the time, but they couldn’t get a straight answer. In many past cases, Leitner Varughese was able to hold the nursing homes to the fire, and hold them responsible for the injuries.
We started investigating, we brought a lawsuit, and after questioning the various supervisors, nurses and the aides that were on duty at the time of when the residents injury was found, we were able to get to the bottom of what happened.
In one case, it turned out that the aide on duty was assisting this elderly man to the bathroom. She turned around and he fell to the floor. Instead of telling anybody, the aide just placed him back in the bed because she didn’t want to get in any trouble, she didn’t want to go through a whole questioning and investigating process by her superiors, so she put him back into bed and didn’t tell anybody, but he fractured his hip. So once the truth came out we were able to secure a very substantial recovery for this family. We handle these types of nursing home abuse and neglect cases every single day. We hope I’ve been able to shed some light on what happens in a nursing home when something happens to resident and nobody fesses up.
In fact, nursing home staff is often obligated to report such situations to the Department of Health. Federal (42 CFR 483.13) and State (10 NYCRR 415.4) regulations require the facility to report injuries of unknown origin to the New York State Department of Health within five days of the incident.
Federal and State Federal and State regulations (42 CFR 483.10(f) and 42 CFR 483.13(c) and 10NYCRR 145.4(b)(2)(3)(4), 415.26(b)(6)) specifically require that the defendant nursing home investigate incidents and complaints and report both to the administrator (or designees) and to other officials (including the Department of Health) within 5 working days of the incident (42CFR483.13(c)(4)).
The Department of Health (“DOH”) requires that the defendant home conduct the following “thorough” investigation, including:
■ The date and time the incident was discovered;
■ Who discovered the incident;
■ How the incident was discovered;
■ A description of the resident and any pertinent information regarding their condition (medical, psychological, behavioral, etc.) noted prior to discover of the incident;
■ A description of the resident and the area where the incident occurred;
■ An interview log that includes:
● Names of staff interviewed along with their signed and dated statements;
● Staff who the facility decided not to interview, and why it was decided not to interview these staff;
● A list of questions posed to the staff interviewed;
● A statement from the resident, if they are able to provide a statement about the incident; and,
● Statements from roommates, volunteers, visitors and other individuals who may have been in the area when the incident took place and may have been a witness to the incident.