A wrongful death claim was dropped in the suit against a Michigan medical facility, but the judge in the case refused to also dismiss the claim that the facility’s staff was negligent in the case of a patient’s fall.

Patient Agnes Strong suffered a broken leg after falling down the stairs in March of 2007, and she later died on October 3rd of the same year. Attorneys for her family agreed to the order dismissing the claim that the fall had directly lead to her eventual death. No explanation for the dismissal of the claim was forthcoming from any of the parties in the case. All parties did argue over whether to dismiss the claim of negligence, however.

Attorneys for the Lenawee Medical Care Facility attempted to narrow the scope of the case to a malpractice claim centered around whether Strong should have been monitored and confined with electronic alarm equipment. A doctor had ordered the patient to be secured with a code alert bracelet for just such a reason, but a nurse later ordered it removed because it was supposedly no longer necessary. The attorneys for the facility argue that whether this decision was correct is a malpractice issue rather than a negligence issue.

The family, on the other hand, rejects this claim, saying the issue is a matter of malpractice and negligence. Attorneys for the family argue that Strong was “forgotten” after lunchtime and not taken back to her room where she belonged. Instead, she was allowed to wander the hallways in a wheelchair, where she eventually came to a fire exit stairway. Strong ultimately fell down several steps, fracturing her leg. Since she was not taken back to her room, the matter is clearly within the realm of negligent care, the family’s attorneys argue, and whether the case should be decided as negligence or malpractice should ultimately be left up to a jury.