Nursing home residents and their loved ones should be assured that all medical care needs will be met. Senior residents should not be the victim of inattention, physical or emotional abuse by physicians, nurses, and staff employed by the nursing home. To avoid a nursing home negligence lawsuit, staff must exercise reasonable care to avoid injury to patients. A court will assess the reasonableness of the patient’s care in the light of the patients’ physical and mental condition. Staff should always be taking reasonable precautions to protect elderly nursing home residents who are unable to protect themselves due to their old age.
Why a Nursing Home Negligence Lawsuit?
However, oftentimes due to under staffing or budget cuts, the care received in a nursing home will fall below a reasonable standard. Nursing home negligence lawsuits will generally involve injuries resulting from fractures, falls, slipping, dehydration, pressure sores, and malnutrition. The most common type of injury suffered by senior residents of nursing homes is bone fractures. These can be very serious when dealing with an older patient who might already suffer from weak bones. Oftentimes these injuries occur from a fall and many residents are physically unable to let nursing staff know about the injury. The failure of nursing home staff to recognize the injury could be the basis of a nursing negligence lawsuit.
Residents in long-term care facilities are a very vulnerable population. A jury in a negligence lawsuit could ultimately decide that a victim is entitled to compensatory and punitive damages. A discussion with a qualified nursing home abuse lawyer will be able to evaluate a case and decide if it is worth investing time and effort to litigate. Beyond compensating a victim, nursing home litigation can begin a process of change that prevents harm from occurring in the first place and safeguard the next generation of elderly residents. Nursing home negligence lawsuits will often cause a nursing home to initiate better compliance programs that protect residents.
Nursing homes have a duty to abide by the law. Failure to abide by this duty will be the basis of any negligence lawsuit. Again, a lawyer skilled in the area of nursing home abuse and neglect will be most able to identify the best cause of action in any particular state. A nursing home negligence lawsuit could adequately compensate a nursing home resident of their family.
Basis of Nursing Home Negligence Lawsuit
The following lists are examples of duties of care owed to a resident of a nursing home that could provide a basis for a nursing home negligence lawsuit:
- Duty to conform with local, state, and federal regulatory provisions
- Duty to provide a facility that is safe, secure, and sanitary
- Duty to provide a sufficient and properly trained staff to provide nursing and related services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, medical, and psychosocial well-being of each resident
- Duty to perform a comprehensive assessment of the resident’s functional capacity
- Duty to prepare and effectuate a comprehensive care plan for the resident
- Duty not to abuse or neglect the resident
- Duty to provide for the medical care of the resident which is supervised by a physician
- Duty to provide for emergency and hospital care and treatment of the resident
- Duty to provide diagnostic services for the resident
- Duty to provide nursing medical care for the resident
- Duty to provide vision, hearing, and dental care services for the resident
- Duty to provide pharmaceutical services for the resident
- Duty to provide proper medication for the resident, free of medication errors
- Duty to prevent pressure sores and to provide for their treatment
- Duty to provide ambulation assistance devices for the resident (e.g., wheelchair, walker)
- Duty to provide proper lodging and bedding for the resident
- Duty to provide proper personal services for the resident (e.g., grooming, bathing, toileting, eating, dressing)
- Duty to provide proper nutrition and hydration for the resident
- Duty to provide proper resident supervision, monitoring, and assistance (e.g., prevention of wandering, elopement)
- Duty not to physically or chemically restrain the resident
- Duty to promote maintenance or enhancement of resident’s quality of life
- Duty to maintain or enhance the resident’s dignity and respect
- Duty to allow the resident to choose activities consistent with his or her health plan
- Duty to prepare and maintain the resident’s clinical medical records
- Duty to allow the resident visitors
- Duty to provide necessary social services for the resident (e.g., mental and psychosocial counseling, legal assistance, discharge coordination)
- Duty to allow the resident the right to complain and file grievances, without fear of reprisal
- Duty to properly prepare and maintain the resident’s financial records
Source: Jasper, Nursing Home Negligence 21 (Oceana Pub., Inc., 2003). See also, §§ 19 to 21.
Nursing Home Negligence Attorney
All attorneys should be aware of the potential value of their client’s nursing home claims. A knowledgeable attorney can secure great gains for his client while helping improve living conditions for others. An attorney should be careful not to ignore such a claim because of a resident’s age or medical condition. Lastly, if you think that someone is being abused or neglected in nursing home, report it directly to the long-term care facility, State licensing Authority, and the Federal Department of Health and Family Services immediately.