Quintairos Prieto Wood & Boyer Secure Defense Verdict in Nursing Home Fall Case IL
Martin Donegan was admitted to the Embassy Nursing Home in Wilmington, Illinois with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. He was 53 years of age. On July 18, 2005, at 11am, he had fallen in another residents room, suffering a hematoma to the left occipital area of his head. The exact circumstances of the incident are unknown. Immediately after the fall he had an extremely elevated blood pressure of 189/111. A voicemail message was left for his treating physician, but was never returned. His blood pressure dropped to 148/89 and he was returned to bed.
Mr. Donegan never got out of bed for a 15 hour period, and he was found unresponsive at 1:45 am the following day. The facility was required to perform neurological examinations for a 24 hour period. The facility, however, failed to perform neurological checks from 2 pm until 8 pm as the evening shift nurse had called off sick, and no nurse worked the wing in which Mr. Donegan resided on until 8 pm. The 8 pm nurse, however, did not know that Mr. Donegan had struck his head earlier in the day, in part because the facility had lost Mr. Donegan’s chart and no one was available to give her report. The chart was not found until the following day, after Mr. Donegan had died of a massive intracranial hemorrage.
The Plaintiff claimed that we violated our own policy and procedures with regard to staffing, neurological checks, and record keeping. The Plaintiff also claimed that we violated numerous provisions under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, as well as several Federal Regulations.
The defense essentially agreed that they failed to follow their own policy and procedures as well as the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, but that Mr. Donegan’s death was caused by an undiagnosed ruptured aneurysm caused not by the the trauma of the fall, but rather the spike in his blood pressure. The defense also claimed that the aneurysm was located deep in the brain, and therefore was inoperable at any point in time, therefore making any deviations from the standard of care inconsequential to his death.
The jury clearly wanted to give damages as evidenced by their jury questions, but could not find that the facility’s actions or inactions caused or contributed to his death. After 3 hours of deliberations the jury returned a complete defense verdict.