91-year-old man falls out of wheelchair, family files wrongful death suit

David Yates May 15, 2007, 11:00am

Mark Sparks

A senior citizen, who had a history of refusing to stay put, fell out of bed and died of low blood pressure three days after the episode.

Rebecca Grayson, individually and as executrix of the estate of William Bennett, is claiming Treymor, Inc. (doing business as Cypress Glenn Nursing and Rehabilitation) did not meet the standard of care required while caring for Bennett.

The plaintiff filed her petition with the Jefferson County District Court on May 14. Court assignment is pending.

According to the petition, on June 3, 2006, Bennett, 91 years of age at the time of incident, was found on the floor in the hallway between the bathroom and room. He had fallen out of his wheelchair and was then escorted by nurses back to his bed.

Bennett's family, who routinely visited to attend to his needs, had arrived at the facility the next day. Bennett complained of severe pain in his left groin. He was transferred to the Southeast Texas Medical Center emergency room and was "assessed as having a left hip fracture."

"The physician's progress notes at the Medical Center of Southeast Texas reflect that postoperatively Mr. Bennett's condition deteriorated," the suit said. "Mr. Bennett became hypotensive. He became unresponsive. He became anoxic and his condition deteriorated. In spite of supportive measures, he died on June 6, 2006," three days after the fall.

The plaintiff alleges Cypress Glenn Nursing should have known that Bennett was at increased risk for a fall. The suit says his fall risk assessment score should have been a 10 out of 10, versus having been scored a four.

The suit says the standard of care required that Bennett's bed and wheelchair be equipped with an alarm and that his bed should have been lower to the floor with a floor mat nearby.

"More likely than not, if Mr. Bennett had been provided with a bed, wheelchair alarm and placed close to the nurses' station, the nurses would have had and opportunity to respond quickly and effectively whenever he attempted to get out of bed and out of his chair thus having an opportunity to prevent his falling," the suit said. "Had this been done his risk of fall and injury would have been substantially reduced."

The suit says 25 percent of senior citizens with fractured hips die within the first year. "Bennett clearly died from the shock in the immediate postoperative period following repair of his hip fracture."

The plaintiff is suing for Bennett's pain and suffering, physical disfigurement and impairment and mental anguish, plus medical costs and other death related expenses.

The plaintiff also seeks to recover wrongful death damages for the past and future loss of companionship and society, past and future mental anguish, past and future pecuniary loss including loss for care, maintenance, support, services, advice, counsel, pecuniary contributions and loss of inheritance.

Grayson is demanding a trial by jury

She is represented by Provost Umphrey attorney Mark Sparks.

Case No. B179-305

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