Illinois woman found dead in nursing home stairwell
84-year-old woman still strapped to wheelchair when found
Nursing home employee allegedly failed to call police or coroner’s office
Funeral home director reportedly lied to about coroner’s office having been to scene
An Illinois nursing home was recently being investigated for potential abuse or neglect after an 85-year-old woman suffered a fatal fall down a stairway. According to reports, the woman had been strapped to a wheelchair at the time of her death. State investigators conducted an investigation into the woman’s death, at least in part to determine whether nursing home abuse or neglect may have played a role in the fatal accident. The results of their investigation were expected to take at least two weeks.
The woman apparently suffered her fall in the early hours of the morning on March 12. Surveillance video from the nursing home seems to show her alone in her wheelchair in the hall by a soda machine. Soon after, she was found at the bottom of a stairwell, still strapped into her wheelchair. A coroner’s report indicated that the woman’s death did occur because of the injuries she sustained in the fall. While there was an alarm associated with the fire door blocking the stairs, it apparently was set at the sound level of a chime rather than louder alarm.
Further reports indicate that a nurse employed at the nursing home chose not to contact the coroner’s office or police officials out of apparent fear that she might lose her job. Officials did not immediately reveal the name of that nurse. Instead of police officials or coroners investigating the initial scene, the woman’s body was removed by a local funeral home. The funeral home director claimed that someone informed him that the coroner had earlier been to the scene and had since left.
It was only later—when the funeral home director contacted the coroner’s office to ask about who would be issuing the death certificate—that he learned the coroner’s office had not actually been notified of the woman’s death. That was the point at which the official investigation into the woman’s fatal fall actually began. The nursing home where the woman’s death occurred has apparently been the subject of wrongful death lawsuits in the past. It is not yet clear whether that will be the case with this latest incident.
Losing a loved one due to nursing home abuse or neglect can be traumatic for a family. This is one reason why wrongful death laws exist—so that families can obtain a measure of justice after a fatal accident that can help promote greater safety in nursing homes. A successful civil lawsuit can also help the family pay for funeral and other related expenses. If you have lost a loved one and believe that a nursing home is to blame, please call us today at 1-888-586-7041 to discuss your case and how we may be able to help you.
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