Arkansas Nursing Home Death Results in $5.2M Lawsuit Award

An Arkansas jury has awarded $5.2 million to a family that filed a lawsuit over nursing home neglect, alleging that a Greenbrier facility failed to provide access to medical care for a resident.  

The complaint was brought following the death of Martha Bull, who was 76 years old when she died while a resident at the Greenbriar Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which is about 45 minutes north of Little Rock, Arkansas.

According to allegations raised in the wrongful death lawsuit, the nursing home staff failed to take Bull to the hospital in March 2008, despite severe abdominal pain she was suffering and a doctor’s orders that she receive immediate emergency care.

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At trial, the family claimed that Bull’s doctor determined that she was suffering from an abdominal abscess and faxed over an order to have her sent to an emergency room. The nursing director received the fax, but was leaving for the day and instead of responding to it, just forwarded the fax to another machine. That machine was evidently in a closet and no one saw it.

Bull reportedly screamed in pain throughout the afternoon, and died that night. Her screams were so loud that other residents complained about the noise, but the nursing home did not discover the doctor’s order until the next day.

Following trial last month in Faulkner County, a jury determined that the nursing home and its management company, Central Arkansas Nursing Centers, were liable for negligence, medical malpractice and violating Bull’s patient rights, awarding $5.2 million in damages. The jury did not find that the facility was responsible for Bull’s death, as no autopsy was ever done and the nursing home argued that it was unclear what caused her death.

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