Trial focused on patient who fell from wheel chair during Ike evacuation

By David Yates | Oct 29, 2012

In the midst of the chaos during the evacuation of Hurricane Ike in September 2008, Patsy Sue Zerko fell out of her wheel chair and fractured her hip. Two weeks later, Zerko died.

As previously reported, Sharon Zerko, Zerko's daughter, sued the Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers Nov. 20, 2009, in Jefferson County District Court, alleging the senior center negligently failed to “to initiate an effective fall prevention program.”

Nearly three years later, the case has been called up for trial, with jury selection beginning Tuesday, Oct. 30.

The original petition states that Zerko was a resident at one of Regency Nursing’s skilled nursing centers. On Sept. 12, 2008, the facility was evacuated. The following day, she fell while attempting to get out of her wheelchair.

Zerko fractured her hip and was treated at St. David’s Hospital in Austin, court papers say.

Her medical records show she was doing “very poorly postoperatively” and became very confused, court papers say.

“On Sept. 29, 2008, she was noted by the nurse to be without breathing, heartbeat, or pulse and was pronounced dead. The cause of death listed on the death certificate is hip fracture.”

The suit goes on to allege Regency Nursing “ignored” Zerko’s needs and failed to “to initiate an effective fall prevention program,” which ultimately resulted in her death.

Jurors will be tasked to decide whether the plaintiff is entitled to wrongful death damages.

Beaumont attorney Michael Jacobellis represents her.

The defendant is represented by attorney Paul Romano.

Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th Judicial District, is presiding over the case.

Case No. D185-371

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