Nursing homes are long-term care facilities where elderly individuals are able to live and to receive medical supervision that they require. Nursing homes usually provide care for those individuals who have a chronic illness and cannot care for themselves but who do not require intensive care or supervision.
For example, individuals who may benefit from a nursing home are those that cannot:
- Go to the restroom;
- Feed themselves; or
- Take their medication.
What Is Nursing Home Negligence?
A nursing home is subject to the laws of the state where it is located as well as federal laws. The Nursing Home Reform Act was enacted by the government in 1987.
Nursing home facilities are required to provide a standard of reasonable care to all residents and patients. If an injury or death occurs when an individual is under the care and control of a nursing home facility, the nursing home will likely be held liable.
Nursing home negligence occurs when an employee, staff, or other personnel at the nursing home fail to exercise the duty of care that is owed to the patients and residents at the home. In many cases, this includes neglect and abuse of the resident or patient.
For a nursing home employee to be held liable, that worker’s breach of duty must have been the direct and proximate cause of the resident or patient’s injury. The individual’s injuries must also be real and objectively measurable.
Negligence in a nursing home setting often occurs because of many factors, including:
- Employees who are having to work too many hours or too many shifts;
- Failure to inform employees of state and federal health or safety standards; or
- Miscommunications between employees.
What Are Some Examples of Nursing Home Negligence?
Nursing home negligence may include numerous different types of offenses, including:
- A failure to respond to the requests or complaints of the patient;
- Failing to provide food or medicine at the required time;
- Leaving a patient alone, especially if they need particular supervision;
- Not screening visitors;
- Direct abuse of a patient;
- Negligence related to:
- changing clothes; and
- other responsibilities;
- A failure to keep the nursing home premises free of dangers and reasonably safe; and
- Negligent hiring of nursing home workers.
Nursing home neglect, or negligence, often goes unreported, especially when a patient is elderly or senile. In these types of cases, negligence can be uncovered using investigations or personal reports.
A state-sanctioned investigation may find many infractions in nursing home facilities.
What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
There are millions of elderly adults who reside in nursing homes throughout the United States. These residents are dependent on other individuals for their basic care, including water, food, and clothing.
There are, however, numerous nursing homes with insufficient and poorly trained staff members who contribute to the growing problem of nursing home abuse.
What Are Some Common Types of Abuse?
Abuse and long-term care abuse may include:
- Failure to provide adequate:
- water; or
- Failure to protect elderly from safety hazards; and
- Rape, battery, assault, or any other unwanted physical contact.
What Can I Do to Stop the Abuse?
There are numerous different steps that the resident or their family member may take to stop the abuse. A complaint can be filed with local law enforcement.
A criminal investigation can be conducted into the alleged nursing home abuse. The local protective services agency can also be contacted to begin an investigation.
This type of agency typically falls under the State Department of Health. The resident or their representative may also file a lawsuit for compensatory and punitive damages.
What are Nursing Home Injuries?
A nursing home injury is an injury that is sustained by the residents of nursing home facilities, typically elderly individuals. These injuries of often due to some form of negligence or malpractice by a:
- Nursing home worker;
- Specialist; or
One common form of nursing home injury is where an elderly individual is:
- Given the wrong medication;
- Given the wrong dose of medication; or
- Not given their medication at all.
Other injuries may include those that are associated with the lifting or transportation of the individual, especially if they are already bedridden. Elder neglect or abuse may also be the basis for a nursing home lawsuit.
There are many different parties that may be held liable for nursing home injuries, including:
- The owner or operator of the facility;
- Medical staff;
- On-site nurses; and
- Medical physicians treating the elderly individual.
What are Some Special Proof Aspects in a Nursing Home Injury Claim?
A nursing home injury lawsuit can often be very complex and specialized. This is due to the fact that nursing home residents often have unique needs which differ from resident to resident.
When calculating the damages in a nursing home injury claim, a court will need to consider very specific elements of proof, including:
- Any reasonable and necessary expenses for medical treatment;
- Anticipation of future expenses that are related to the injury;
- Harm resulting from prolonged immobilization, such as bedsores;
- Phantom pain or other types of pain that are not immediately recognizable, which are commonly associated with surgery and amputation for diabetes;
- Disfigurement or loss of ability to enjoy life; and
- Shortened life span expectancy.
Additionally, many nursing home injury claims involve losses to third parties, for example, close family relatives. This is because the parents or other family members may experience issues, for example, loss of consortium or mental anguish when the nursing home resident is injured.
Proof of injuries to an elderly individual may often require the assistance of a medical expert who can offer their expert opinion on the subject. This will likely have to be done on a case-by-case basis, as each patient has a different background.
Can a Nursing Home Be Held Liable for the Actions of Its Employees?
An employer can typically be held liable for the actions of its employees while they are at work. If a nursing home employee injures a resident while they are on duty, in many cases, the nursing home will be held liable.
How Can I Be Sure That My Relative Receives Adequate Care?
There are numerous steps the relatives of a nursing home patient can take to prevent nursing home abuse, including:
- Asking questions. When choosing a nursing home, a resident’s loved ones should be vigilant in determining what services the nursing home provides;
- Check elderly for weight loss, bedsores, and other signs of negligence or abuse; and
- Visiting the resident frequently.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Proof in a Nursing Home Injury Claim?
A nursing home injury lawsuit may present numerous challenges. It may also involve numerous different legal issues such as elder law and employment law.
If you or a loved one has been injured while at a nursing home, it is in your best interests to consult with a nursing home abuse lawyer for assistance with a nursing home injury claim. Your lawyer can help you file a claim with the court and can explain the laws in your area that apply to your case.
Having an attorney is your best chance at helping you or your loved one obtain compensation for nursing home injuries. In addition, your attorney can help ensure that the nursing home facility is investigated and other residents do not suffer the consequences of neglect or abuse.