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Patrick MurphyMichael Hill

Patrick Murphy · Michael Hill

$250,000 Offer, $2.8 Million Dollar Jury Verdict For Nursing Home Death Case

TLU Icon June 24, 2024 5:30 PM||TLU n Demand

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Resident was an 87-year-old woman who recently had a tracheostomy placed due to complications with a surgical procedure. After having returned home to the care and attention of her family and home health aides, she was hospitalized again for Pneumonia and then discharged to the defendant SNF for rehabilitation.

The SNF admission took place in April of 2020, shortly after the COVID shutdown commenced. The resident had eight children who could only visit her through a window from the outside of the facility.SNF staff and administration were at odds with the family due to their constant insistence on attention to their mother.

The children communicated their mother’s visits and condition with one and other via strings of text messages. The family had accumulated over 1,500 photos and videos of their mother, many of which were shared with other siblings via text. These texts, photos and videos proved to be valuable evidence to establish what had caused their mother’s death.

Resident was tracheostomized and receiving 6 liters of oxygen through a trach mask.Shortly before her death she was experiencing increased lethargy, mucus and breathing difficulties and the respiratory provider warned that the resident may need to move to mechanical ventilation. That change of condition was never related to the family.

On the date of death, the Plaintiff daughter appeared for a visit and observed that her mother’s trach mask was pulled away from her trach opening and that the gauze around the trach was obstructing the trach opening. She brought the issue to the attention of the nurse who was setting the resident up for the window visit. The nurse ignored the concerns of the daughter and left the room. That is when the daughter started to videotape the occurrence.

The daughter took four separate videos and sent multiple text messages and made multiple missed calls to the POA to determine what action should take place. Due to the “odds” with nursing staff over the family’s constant demands and an event the day before where the same daughter was threatened that visitation would be stopped if the family continued to be a problem, the daughter was unsure how to respond.

The response of the daughter was the most dangerous part of the case. The elephant in the room was the question as to why she did not bang on the window, call the front desk or even call 911.

The videos taken that day show the resident progressing to respiratory distress and respiratory failure. They were extremely impactful. The videos also showed that when the nurse turned the bed to set up the window visit, she did not move the oxygen supply equipment with the bed, something she had testified in deposition was needed when the bed was moved. The failure to move the equipment resulted in tension on the oxygen tubing, pulling the trach mask from the trach and disrupting the gauze that ended up blocking the trach opening. The SNF blamed the resident for the disruption of the mask and gauze.

At the start of the fourth video a respiratory therapist entered the room and, despite the obvious, did not immediately appreciate the emergency condition. He took several valuable minutes to determine that emergency help was needed.

In all, it took 20 minutes from when the respiratory distress started until 911 was even called. It took 11 minutes from when the RT entered the room until 911 was called. See the attached timeline which was the last slide of a power point which walked the jury through events.

The jury determined that the defendants were negligent and awarded the following verdicts:

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