Virginia Nursing Home Resident Dies After Seven Falls During Lift Transfers

A Virginia family is suing their mother’s former nursing home over her death following a fall. The woman, Fannye Doris Holden Scruggs Rorer, was an amputee who had only one eye and suffered from Alzheimer’s. On April 15, 2016, she had been a resident of Woodhaven Hall at Williamsburg Landing in Williamsburg, VA for 5 years when a lone CNA attempted to transfer her from her bed using a hoyer lift. During the transfer, Ms. Rorer fell and X-rays later showed she suffered compression fractures on her lumbar spine. Instead of moving Ms. Rorer to a hospital for treatment, the facility chose to keep her on site. Ms. Rorer died 8 days late at age 87.


Victim Suffered Repeated Falls Before Death
The lawsuit also alleges that Ms. Rorer had been dropped 6 times in the months leading up to her fatal fall in April 2016. The Virginia Department of Health had also cited the facility in 2015 and again in 2016 during an inspection conducted less than 2 months prior to Ms. Rorer’s fall. The citations from that inspection include nursing staff’s failure to notify a resident’s doctor that she was in severe pain following a fall, as well as a lack of care plan for a patient following a bowel surgery.

A hoyer lift is a hydraulic system that involves placing a sling under the patient’s body to move them from a bed to a chair (or wheelchair). The device is typically used for patients who are mostly unable to move around independently and while it is unclear what the care plan detailed for Ms. Rorer, most healthcare professionals believe that the lift requires two people to operate. Patients may be too heavy for one CNA to transfer safely, a patient could slip out of the device, struggle to break free, or the device could flip over or otherwise malfunction.

The complaint against Woodhaven Hall at Williamsburg Landing alleges that Ms. Rorer should have been transferred by two CNAs vs. just one, especially after suffering from 6 other falls during lifts transfers in mere months.

Falls During Lift Transfers: An Entirely Preventable Death
Woodhaven Hall at Williamsburg Landing is an extremely small facility with only 15 beds. It does not accept Medicaid and the family is said to have spent $600,000 for her care in the 5 years in which she was a resident. Ms. Rorer was a lifelong resident of Williamsburg and the nursing home, right in her hometown, is said to be one of the best. The family is suing for over $2 million.

Ms. Rorer’s tragic death is a reminder that even the best, most expensive nursing homes can still be negligent. One fall during a lift transfer is unacceptable, but to have allowed a resident to fall a total of 7 times and ultimately die is reprehensible. The facility’s policy, if it doesn’t already, should clearly state that at least 2 staff members are required to transfer a patient. While only time will tell if the cause of the fall was inadequate staffing or a CNAs failure to follow policy, it is hard to imagine a legitimate reason why the nursing home allowed Ms. Rorer to fall once, much less 7 times.

If your loved one has fallen during a transfer, whether manually or with the assistance of a lift device, the nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Chicago’s Levin & Perconti want to help you. For over 25 years we have helped families of nursing home fall victims get answers and get results. Call us now for a free consultation: (312) 332-2872 or click here to complete our online case evaluation.

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