March 4, 2011

Contact: Eric W. Boyer, Esq.
Managing Partner
305-670-1101 Ext. 1023

Nursing Home Malpractice

Peter J. Molinelli

WILMINGTON, IL – Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. (QPWB) trial attorney Peter J. Molinelli (Tampa, FL) and local defense counsel, Paula Meyer Besler (Chicago, IL) of the law firm of Kitch, Drutchas, Wagner, Valitutti & Sherbrook, obtained a defense verdict in a nursing home malpractice case where a 53-year-old nursing home resident suffered a hematoma to the left occipital area of his head following a fall and was placed back in bed without neurological assessment. He died the following day of massive intracranial hemorrhage.
Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, Mr. Martin Donegan (Donegan) was a resident of Embassy Nursing Home in Wilmington, IL. On July 18, 2005 at 11:00 a.m., he had fallen in another resident’s room. Immediately after the fall, his blood pressure reached 189/111. A voicemail message to his treating physician was placed and was never returned. When Donegan’s blood pressure dropped to 148/89, he was returned to his bed.
The following day, July 19 at 1:45 a.m., having never gotten out of bed during a 15-hour period,
Donegan was found unresponsive. Although required to perform neurological examinations during a 24-hour period after a resident fall, the facility never did – neither after the fall nor from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. – as the evening shift nurse had called in sick. On the day of the incident, it was not until 8:00 p.m. when a nurse was stationed in the area where Donegan resided. That nurse was unaware that the resident had struck his head earlier in the day, in part, because the facility had lost his chart and no one was available to provide her with a report.
Plaintiffs claimed the nursing home had violated its own policies and procedures with regard to staffing, neurological checks, recordkeeping; as well as numerous provisions under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and several Federal regulations.
The defense agreed with plaintiffs’ claims. However, the defense differed in the decedent’s cause of death. The defense claimed that Donegan’s death was caused by an undiagnosed ruptured aneurysm caused by the spike in his blood pressure; rather than by the trauma of the fall. The defense also claimed that the aneurysm was located deep in the brain and inoperable; therefore, making any deviation from the standard of care inconsequential to his death.
The jury clearly wanted to apply damages as evidenced by their questions but could not find causality attributing Donegan’s death to either, the facility’s actions or inactions. Plaintiffs sought $3 million; after three hours of deliberations, the jury returned a complete defense verdict.
About QPWB
Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., is a full-service business law firm with more than 100 attorneys collaborating across major practice areas in seven offices located throughout Florida including Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tallahassee; and an office in Louisville, Kentucky. QPWB provides comprehensive legal services to individuals and organizations of all sizes throughout the U.S. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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