Broken Necks in Nursing Homes
The last thing that a nursing home resident expects is to suffer a severe, life-threatening injury such as a broken neck on the premises. Unfortunately, nursing homes can contain many serious injury risks, such as dangerous staircases or abusive staff members. If you or a loved one has suffered a broken neck while at a nursing home in California, learn your legal rights and options with help from a Los Angeles nursing home abuse lawyer.
Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of a Broken Neck
A broken neck is a break or fracture in a bone located in the upper cervical spine. It is an extremely serious injury with an acute mortality rate of more than 20 percent, according to multiple studies. If a broken neck is not fatal for a victim, it can cause short-term symptoms such as respiratory issues, heart problems, muscle atrophy and gastrointestinal problems. It can also result in long-term or permanent effects, including:
- High blood pressure
- Bladder and bowel dysfunction
- Gastrointestinal dysfunction
- Pressures ulcers (bedsores) from immobility
- Blood clots
- Depression and mental health declines
- Increased mortality rate
- Increased risk of secondary injury
It is important for someone who has suffered a broken neck to receive immediate emergency medical care. Medical professionals will check to see if the victim is breathing and has a heartbeat. Then, they will immobilize the neck and spine. Once the injury has been assessed and diagnosed, a doctor will recommend an appropriate form of treatment, which may include surgery, a brace, bed rest and/or physical therapy.
What Causes Broken Necks in Nursing Homes?
The spinal cord is a complex part of the body that is surrounded by delicate nerves. Any injury to the head or neck could cause a bone fracture in the cervical spine. Hyperextension of the neck, blunt-force trauma to the neck, and a resident hitting his or her head are the three most common types of neck injury. Incidents that may result in a nursing home resident suffering a broken neck include:
- Slip, trip and fall accident
- Dropping a resident during a transfer
- Lack of resident supervision
- Resident wandering or elopement
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Osteoporosis, diabetes and other medical conditions
- Parkinson’s disease, dementia and fall risks
- Medications that cause vertigo or dizziness
- Fainting or seizures
- Physical abuse or acts of violence
Many common causes of broken necks in nursing homes have to do with negligence. The definition of negligence is the failure to act with reasonable care. Negligence in a nursing home can take the form of a dangerous premises, resident malnourishment, inadequate medical care or lack of proper employee training. If negligence causes a broken bone in the upper spinal cord of a nursing home resident, the victim or surviving loved ones may be able to file a personal injury claim.
When Can You File a Lawsuit for a Broken Neck in a Nursing Home?
A lawsuit against a nursing home for a broken neck could be based on multiple grounds. Negligence is the most common legal doctrine used. If you or a loved one suffers a broken neck, your first step should be to contact an attorney. An attorney can thoroughly investigate the incident and collect evidence of negligence, if available. Evidence used to support a claim may take the form of photographs, surveillance footage, eyewitness accounts, medical records and expert testimony.
If nursing home abuse or neglect caused a neck fracture, this is also grounds for a civil lawsuit against the nursing home in California. Nursing homes are responsible for the behaviors of their staff members. If a staff member committed a crime against a resident that resulted in a broken neck, such as physical abuse, assault or battery, the nursing home can be held liable. A successful lawsuit could result in financial compensation for medical expenses, permanent disability, pain and suffering, and more.
For more information about your legal rights after a broken neck in a nursing home, contact Rose, Klein & Marias LLP to request a free case review.