Published on:

Nursing home denied summary judgment in medical malpractice death case. Hernandez v. Amsterdam Nursing Home Corp. (1992), 2019 N.Y. Slip Op. 32815 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2019)


Falls are problem in nursing homes, often stemming from negligence in care practices. Many residents are vulnerable due to age-related frailty or medical conditions that impair mobility and balance. Proper safety measures, such as adequate staffing, regular monitoring, and personalized care plans, are crucial to prevent falls. Negligence occurs when these practices are not properly implemented, leading to unnecessary risks. Common oversights include failing to use bed alarms, inadequate supervision, and not adjusting care to account for medication effects. Such negligence can result in falls that cause severe injuries or even fatalities among elderly residents.

Hernandez v. Amsterdam Nursing Home Corp. (1992), 2019 N.Y. Slip Op. 32815 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2019) involves an allegation of  nursing home and medical malpractice following the death of a 67-year-old woman under their care who suffered serious injuries following a fall.

Background Facts
On July 8, 2014, a woman was admitted to Amsterdam Nursing Home for rehabilitation purposes. During her stay, she experienced three falls. Her final fall on August 16 resulted in severe injuries, including a laceration to her head and a subdural hematoma. She was transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital, where despite surgical intervention, she died on August 22, 2014. Allegations surfaced that the nursing home failed to implement necessary safety measures such as functioning bed alarms and regular monitoring, which could have prevented her falls, particularly the fatal last one.

A bed alarm is a safety device used primarily in healthcare settings like hospitals and nursing homes to monitor patients who are at risk of falling. It alerts caregivers when a patient attempts to leave their bed without assistance. The alarm can be connected to a bed sensor or a mat on the floor and is triggered when pressure is removed from the sensor, indicating that the patient is moving. This system helps ensure that caregivers can respond quickly to assist the patient, thereby reducing the risk of falls and related injuries.

Whether Amsterdam Nursing Home met the required standard of care and if their failure to do so was the direct cause of the decedent’s injuries and subsequent death. The court needed to assess if the alleged lack of safety measures and monitoring were significant factors in the outcome.

The court determined there were substantial factual disputes regarding whether the nursing home failed to meet the care standard. Consequently, the court denied the nursing home’s motion for summary judgment, indicating that the matter should proceed to a trial for these disputes to be resolved by a jury.

The nursing home argued, supported by expert testimony from Dr. Barbara Tommasulo, that they had adhered to all appropriate medical and nursing practices and that their actions or inactions were not a proximate cause of the injuries. Dr. Tommasulo emphasized that the patient had been assessed properly upon admission and appropriate fall-prevention measures were in place.

Contrarily, the plaintiff presented expert opinions from Dr. Perry Starer and Nurse Eleanor Tache, asserting that the nursing home had neglected crucial safety protocols, specifically citing the absence of a functioning bed alarm on the day of the last fall and inadequate monitoring. These experts argued that these failures directly contributed to the falls and the eventual death of the decedent.

The conflicting testimonies presented by the defendant’s and plaintiff’s experts highlighted issues of fact that were not resolvable without a full trial, leading the court to conclude that summary judgment was inappropriate.

Cases like this underline the importance of understanding the rights of individuals in medical and care facilities and the responsibilities of those facilities to uphold a high standard of care. If you or a loved one has been affected by a similar situation, it is critical to seek legal counsel to navigate the complexities of medical malpractice law effectively. An experienced New York nursing home abuse lawyer can provide the necessary guidance and representation to ensure that justice is served. Stephen Bilkis & Associates can help you evaluate your case and explore your legal options. Contact us today to schedule a free  consultation and take the first step towards protecting your rights and securing the compensation you deserve.

Published on:

Comments are closed.

Contact Information