In February, the Supreme Court, Queens County denied the summary judgment motion of defendant Flushing Manor Care Center in an action claiming violations of the New York Public Health Law. The Court, in its opinion, noted that the differing expert affidavits of plaintiff and defendant precluded a finding of summary judgment.
The plaintiff was admitted to the defendant nursing home following a fall at a Queens assisted living facility and a subsequent hospitalization. She had been experiencing brief fainting spells and losses of consciousness, known as syncope, and had pain in her hip upon her admission to the nursing home, but an x-ray taken at the hospital showed no fracture from the current fall.
Because of her syncope and the recent fall, the facility determined that the plaintiff was at a high risk for falls. Flushing Manor implemented a care plan with numerous interventions to prevent falling, including side rails for bed and a locked bed and wheelchair. Additional interventions were ordered when it was noted that the plaintiff was also incontinent and unsteady on her feet. Despite the interventions, one night the plaintiff fell while attempting to stand up from her wheelchair. The on-duty nurse testified that she heard the chair alarm, saw the plaintiff attempting to stand, and rushed to her aid, but was unable to completely stop the fall. The plaintiff was taken to the hospital, where a right hip fracture was diagnosed.
The nursing home moved for summary judgment, submitting with the motion an expert affirmation from a physician stating that it (the facility) did not depart from accepted standards of care. Plaintiff’s opposing expert raised a triable issue of fact regarding the nursing home’s deviation from accepted standards. The nursing expert claimed that the home was inadequately staffed at the time of the fall, and that the interventions implemented were insufficient to prevent falls. The Court agreed with the plaintiff that an issue of fact did exist to present to a jury. As such, because the issues before the Court were not merely of law, it would have been inappropriate to grant the nursing home’s motion for summary judgment.