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Victim in Roanoke, VA Nursing Home Fall Wins $6.5M Verdict

An 84-year-old nursing home resident who fell while getting out of bed and suffered injuries that required incurring nearly $75,000 in treatment expenses has won a multimillion award against the owner of the long-term facility in Roanoke, Virginia (VA), where she was hurt. According to a report in Virginia Lawyers Weekly, $5 million of the $6.5 million judgment represented punitive damages against the nursing home company for actively discouraging the use of bed alarms to alert nurses and other staff when patients put themselves in danger by getting up without assistance.

As the nursing instructional video above and real-word observational studies show, bed alarms by themselves are not sufficient to prevent falls by elderly patients. Still, the equipment should be standard for any person, regardless of age, whose physical or mental condition makes it difficult to stand and walk without help.

Statistics compiled by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that some 1,800 people die each year after falling in a nursing home. Also, according to the CDC, as many as 75 percent of long-term care facility residents fall annually, with 20 percent of those people suffering serious injuries.

While every fall cannot be prevented, the current number of nursing home falls is beyond unacceptable. As a Virginia nursing home neglect attorney, I am pleased to see that jurors hearing evidence of neglect for patient safety decided to send a message to the facility's owners -- and all nursing home operators -- that they need to use every tool available to ensure patients' safety.

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