Malfunctioning hospital bed blamed for strangulation death of man – $1 million settlement in Texas with some parties – confidential settlement with others.
The plaintiff's decedent, 75-year-old man, was a resident of a nursing home. During that time, decedent was placed into a "facility bed," which the plaintiffs claimed was inappropriate for his needs and safety due to its malfunctions and need for repair. It was known by, or reported to, the nursing home's servants or employees that the side rails on this particular bed were broken, needing repair or replacement, and that the mattress placed in the bed was insufficient and too small or narrow for the bed, allowing it to slide down and off the bed as decedent was laying on it - all of which created discomfort and safety hazard for him.
The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants, their agents, servants or employees, failed to repair or to correct the identified problems. and they failed to act in exercising ordinary care as required to monitor, care, supervise, and appropriately treat the decedent. This resulted in injury to him when he slid down into, and between, the malfunctioning side rails. His head and neck became ledged therein. Having been subjected to prolonged agonizing pain, agony, suffering, and anguish, he died by strangulation on May 11, 1998.
An Inquest procedure regarding the circumstances of death was attempted at the hospital the day after death. However, the nursing home administrator prevented him from conducting his legal obligation by falsely advising him that the decedent's physician had already signed his death certificate. The plaintiffs alleged that in an attempt to cover-up the true cause of the resident's death, the defendant, the Director of Nurses at the facility performed his own spurious "investigation" into the death. The defendant medical director for the nursing home allegedly participated in the conspiracy and cover-up. The medical director recorded the cause of death as a heart attack - without reviewing the proper records, and without speaking with nursing attendants on duty at the time of the resident's death.
The plaintiffs claimed these defendants, in addition to negligence and violation of penal law also failed to report the accident, as required by state law. The plaintiffs claimed the defendants were negligent in placing the decedent into a defective bed, failing to inspect the premises for hazards, failing to correct the dangerous condition and in failing to warn the resident regarding the hazards. The defendants either denied the allegations, or maintained that the decedent died of a heart attack unrelated to the condition and circumstances of his bed.
According to the trial reports, the nursing home settled out of the case at mediation for $1,000,000. An additional settlement was made by another party, but is subject to a confidentiality agreement.
With permission from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts; Lewis Laska, Editor, 901 Church St., Nashville, TN 37203-3411