Patient Care Neglect at North Carolina Nursing Homes and Rehab Centers a Concern for Families in Statesville, Elsewhere

Many of us are familiar with the triumphant story of Gabrielle Gifford’s remarkable recovery after sustaining a traumatic brain injury a year ago from a gun shot that penetrated her skull. As witnessed in her story, patients who sustain serious blows to the head or traumatic brain injuries in Asheville, or elsewhere in the country need extensive medical care and rehabilitation if they have any hope of recovery.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients are often housed in facilities to help them rehabilitate from physical or mental disabilities after the accident because they can no longer take care of themselves or function on their own. Families rely on these facilities to give our loved ones the best care possible and prevent them from further injury. Such facilities, including nursing homes, have an obligation to ensure the safety of residents. This includes not allowing them to walk out the door at their own free will.

Our Hickory nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys never understand how a resident can walk through a door without staff knowing it, but it happens all too frequently.

WRAL reports of a recent incident involving a TBI patient who went missing for five hours after walking out the front door of a Raleigh rehab center. This is not the first time something like has happened at this particular type of facility. During a shift change, the patient unknowingly walked out the front door of the Learning Services facility. Family members researched rehab facilities before admitting the patient and found Learning Services to be the best in the business. Why then, are they losing or failing to maintain supervision of patients who have no way of protecting themselves in dangerous situations?

Other families have not been as lucky. In 2004, an incident at a Learning Services center in Durham had a much different outcome. A resident walked out the door and went missing for four days. Unable to take care of himself, the man was found frozen to death a block and half away. The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit and later settled for $2.5 million.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has had to conduct several investigations for deficiencies at the Learning Services facilities according to state records. At a Creedmoor facility, a patient died after having a seizure and was not attended to by staff. The company was fined $2,000 for failing to respond appropriately in this incident. The company has also been cited for losing a patient in Durham and not having a registered nurse available at a Raleigh location. Learning Services specializes in TBI patient care, which often means patients don’t have the capabilities to care for themselves both mentally and physically.

The company’s resolution for rectifying the situation in the recent incident is to place a device on the patient that will alert staff if he or she walks out the door. A bracelet will also be given to the attending nurse so the patient doesn’t get overlooked when a shift change takes place.

North Carolina injury lawyers aren’t comfortable with what appears to be a “Band-Aid” fix like this. Facilities have an obligation to give loved ones the best care possible, which includes making sure they are supervised at all times.

If a family member or someone else you love has been neglected or abused at a nursing home or rehabilitation center in North Carolina, contact the dedicated and knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at Lee Law Offices, P.A. for a free and confidential appointment. We will listen to the details of your case and advise you of your rights. Call 1-800-887-1965 to speak to someone today.

Additional Resources:
Rehab facility has history of patients wandering away, by Sloane Heffernan,

More Blog Entries:
Falls a Common Cause of Injury and Death Among North Carolina Elderly, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, April 24, 2011.

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