Case Study Nursing Home Injury to Alzheimers Resident

On February 6, 2003, 87 year-old Harold Scharf* was transferred to the residential care facility in Bothell, Washington. Mr. Scharf had been previously diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. He was considered a risk for falling. The residential care plan specifically stated that he was to be assisted with two persons while walking or being transferred.

On the first day Mr. Scharf was admitted, the staff left him unattended while sitting on the bed. One staff member attempted to move Mr.

Scharf and he was dropped onto the floor. The Washington State Department of Health and Social Services requires a residential care facility to report any injuries to a resident. Despite this requirement, the facility failed to report that Mr. Scharf was dropped onto the floor.

Over the next several days, Mr. Scharf’s personal caretaker noticed that he was acting unusual and that he would wince in pain with certain movements. About five (5) days later the caretaker noticed bruising on Mr. Scharf’s right hip and leg. She demanded that he be taken to the hospital. The ER staff at a nearby hospital in Bellevue could not determine what was wrong with Mr.

Scharf, that is, until X-rays were taken of his legs and hips. These showed that Mr. Scharf had suffered a fractured to his right hip. He then underwent emergency surgery. Mr. Scharf spent 6 weeks in a rehabilitation facility.

After Mr. Scharf’s caretakers discovered that he had fractured his hip, they confronted the care facility and its owner. They learned that Mr. Scharf had been dropped, although the owner gave differing accounts of what happened. They immediately contacted DSHS to report the incident. DSHS conducted an investigation and found that the care facility violated its own care plan and failed to promptly notify the agency and the resident’s family members when Mr.

Scharf was dropped. The care facility was issued a citation. Mr. Scharf incurred medical bills of approximately $65,000, although this was disputed by the defendants. Most of this expense was paid by Medicare. However, Mr.

Scharf is required to reimburse Medicare for this expense out of his settlement recovery proceeds. Mr. Scharf is now 90 years old.

He has made a near full recovery. Unfortunately, his Alzheimer’s condition has worsened. He has no memory of his prior injury. He now uses a wheelchair and walks occasionally with the assistance of a walker and his personal caretaker.

Initially the facility made no offer to settle the case. After Mr. Scharf's family hired me to represent them we were able to negotiate a $250,000 settlement.

*Some names have been changed to protect our client’s privacy.

Seattle personal injury attorney Christopher M. Davis is the managing partner of Davis Law Group. He brings over 15 years of practical yet innovative experience to personal injury cases. He practices law in Seattle, WA. You can learn more about Mr. Davis at Click here to get information on your personal injury or car accident claim.

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