DATELINE THE BRONX It was a cold and gray February day when the family of Alyce Fonseca gathered to bury their loved one. As a brisk wind whirled around them, Mrs. Fonseca's daughter Rosa felt her brother's arm encircle her.
"This is all happening much too soon," Rosa said through tears.
Enrique agreed. "I always assumed she would be standing here today over Dad's marker. Not the other way around."
Beth was their mother's best friend. She walked toward them slowly. She scanned Rosa's face anxiously before speaking.
"Honey, things should not have ended this way for Alyce. Remember how her speech was messed up when I first got to the nursing home to visit? And when I leaned down so I could hear her better, I noticed that awful bruise on her head? I knew something really bad had happened. That bruise was caused by something."
Enrique answered instead. "I'm sure that she fell while she was in the nursing home. And the nursing home should never have allowed this to happen. When I asked about the bruise, I couldn't get a straight answer."
After a pause, Enrique continued.
"That's why I insisted on them sending her to the hospital immediately. Even though the hospital staff probably did their best all of last week -- trying to save her, really -- we both know she never recovered because of that original fall. That's what caused the subdural hematoma.
"I don't think the nursing home cared for her properly. They didn't ensure her safety. What's worse, they never told me about it."
"I am going to contact a lawyer about what happened to Mom," Enrique said with finality. "Besides, what will we do if we need to put Dad in a home?" He glanced at the widower being consoled a few yards away.
"You should see what your options are. Legally, I mean," said Beth.
analysisWhat happened to Alyce Fonseca in a nursing home is not uncommon. Nursing home abuse often manifests itself in unexplained injuries that can ultimately be traced to falls or other negligent nursing home care. The causes of these falls require investigation, a study of medical records, and plenty of question-asking. A nursing home should be a safe place for patients, but sadly patients suffer falls and injuries due to negligent nursing home care.
How will you know whether your loved one’s injury was caused by negligent nursing home care? Often the first indication comes from an unexplained fracture, hematoma or other injury.
If your loved one has suffered an injury or death while under the care of a nursing home, you and your loved one may have legal recourse.
An unexpected visit to the emergency room is also cause to suspect negligent nursing home care. Ask questions. What caused the injury? Was there a fall? Where and when did this happen? In Alyce Fonseca’s case, she may have needed to go to the bathroom and nobody answered her call for help. Or, she may have been so medicated she could not walk properly. Or, she may have fallen out of bed or a wheelchair because the nursing home was not monitoring her properly due to inadequate and short staffing.
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