The Illinois Appellate Court has affirmed a request for a new trial in the wrongful death case against a nursing home where a doctor failed to recognize and diagnose the symptoms of a pulmonary embolism.

The case arose from Mary Sikora’s request for a new trial. She claimed that the nursing home doctor did not realize that the symptoms experienced by her late husband, Chris Sikora, were caused by a pulmonary embolism, not bacterial pneumonia.

The Illinois Appellate Court was split on whether a Golden Rule argument asking the jurors to view the situation from the perspective of the defendant was merely “technically improper” or should be treated as “never appropriate.”

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The state appellate court in Nebraska held that a lawsuit against a nursing home arising out of a patient’s fall from bed required expert testimony to prove causation and was not subject to the common-knowledge exception.

In this case, Musa Gwelo suffered from multiple myeloma, chronic pain, depression, and tachycardia. She was admitted to Life Care Center of Elkhorn and fell out of bed just hours after her admission. She died less than one week later.

Her estate sued the nursing home and its affiliates for her wrongful death. The defendants moved successfully for summary judgment.

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Jean Purdie was admitted to Towne Manor West Nursing Home for short-term rehabilitation services in April 2015. At the time of her admission, she suffered from hemiparesis, diabetes and hypertension. She was unable to move herself in bed.

She developed a deep tissue injury on her sacrum during her first month in this facility. Her condition deteriorated. She developed additional skin injuries, including a pressure ulcer on her right heel and abrasions to her face, arms and thigh. Purdie died in September 2015 and was survived by several adult children.

The Purdie estate sued the nursing home alleging that it chose not to adopt protocols for pressure sore prevention, failed to adequately rotate Purdie to prevent her from developing pressure sores, provide sufficient nutrition and skin assessments, and treat her pressure sores.

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Morley Sprague was 57  and suffering from end-stage multiple sclerosis and had a history of urinary tract infections (UTI) and degenerative joint disease.  After being hospitalized for treatment for sepsis and UTI, he was admitted to the North Canyon Care Center, a nursing home that offered wound care services.

Unfortunately, within a week, Sprague’s two existing pressure ulcers worsened from Stage I and II to Stage IV. In addition, he developed a Stage IV pressure sore on his right buttock.

After he left the nursing home, he required antibiotics and other continued medical care for his wounds, which failed to heal. Two years after his discharge, Sprague died of sepsis that resulted from an infected pressure ulcer. He was survived by his wife and three adult children.

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Audrey Smith, 92, lived at Anna Rehabilitation & Nursing Center and suffered from dementia, hypertension and depression. Almost ten years after her admission, she was found in a pool of blood on the floor of her room. She had fallen and suffered a subdural hematoma with midline shift, a C6 fracture, and an orbital fracture.

After being treated at a nearby hospital, Smith was transferred to a different hospital where she died seven days later. She was survived by her five adult children.

The Smith family and Smith’s estate sued the nursing home and its management company claiming it chose not to provide trained health care staff, provided inadequate staffing and supervision and failed to adhere to professional standards and inadequate care plan.

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June Newbauer, 70, lived at the Grace Living Center. She was dropped to the floor as she was being transferred into a shower chair. An x-ray showed no fracture, according to radiologist and defendant, Dr. James Zimmerman.

Another internist reviewed the same x-ray and also concluded there was no fracture.

The following month, Newbauer fell out of bed. Another internist who was called in to examine here did not order any imaging studies despite her leg pain. Four days later, she was correctly diagnosed as having a fractured left femur and knee.

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Harry Cohoon was diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer and was recovering at Victoria Healthcare Center while he underwent treatment from various injuries he had suffered.

For 19 days, he did well at the healthcare center. On the 20th day of his residency there, he was observed having difficulty swallowing thin liquids. After evaluation, his diet was changed.

His niece, Donna Cochrum sued the healthcare center contending that the change was not properly communicated to the residency kitchen staff. Consequently, that night he was served a dinner that did not conform to his new diet.

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In this case, the plaintiff, Merton Messmore, brought a wrongful-death claim against the nursing home in Silvis, Ill., which is about 161 miles west of Chicago. Messmore’s wife, Mary, died after she allegedly fell.

The Illinois Appellate Court called this case “a unique situation” about a stay under Section 2(d) of the Uniform Arbitration Act because the survival claims Messmore filed on behalf of Mary’s estate “are subject to arbitration, his wrongful-death claim is not, and he bases all three claims on the same factual allegations.”

Messmore wanted to proceed in the circuit court but discovery on the wrongful-death claim included taking his evidence deposition (Messmore is at least 90.) without having to wait for arbitration of the survival claims. The defendants, Silvis Operations d/b/a Lighthouse of Silvis and one of its nurses, argued that Section 2(d) required the trial judge to stay all three claims.

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Ms. Doe was in her 60s when she was admitted to the Roe Skilled Nursing Facility after undergoing hip replacement surgery.

She asked for assistance with transferring herself from her bed or chair to the bathroom. A certified nursing assistant who had never worked with her before answered her call. Before Ms. Doe moved to a seated position, the nursing assistant dropped her legs over the bed. This caused her to suffer a broken right femur.

The nursing home’s staff chose not to evaluate Ms. Doe despite her pain after her fall. Ms. Doe was transferred to a nearby hospital that evening where she received the diagnosis of a fractured right femur.

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Edward Arnold was 70 when he was admitted to Whitestone Care Center for rehabilitation after a below-the-knee amputation of his left leg. After he went through dialysis, he was placed in a chair and left alone.

Arnold later fell, fracturing his right hip. The rehabilitation center’s staff then placed him back in his bed. Several days later, he was admitted to a hospital where he underwent hip surgery. Because of the hip fracture, he received additional rehabilitation, but he died months later of unrelated causes.

Arnold’s estate sued the nursing home, its corporate owners and managers, and other related corporate entities, alleging failure to adequately staff the nursing home, corporate negligence and joint venture liability. Continue reading