Nursing Home Neglect

$375,000 settlement with a nursing home for severely neglecting a resident.

We entrust the health and safety of our parents, spouses, and other family members who, because of age, illness, or infirmity may not be able to properly care for themselves to institutions. These institutions which, for sake of brevity, we call “nursing homes.”

However, there are different types of “nursing homes” and they are divided according to the needs of the patient. “Assisted living facilities” provide apartments, meal preparation, and on-site recreation and nursing care to those whose needs require less assistance.

“Post-acute care facilities,” which may or may not be part of a larger institution, provide short-term care to those recuperating from illness or surgery in an environment much less expensive than a hospital.

Other institutions may have sections or wings where staff claims special skills in the care of a particular affliction (e.g. an Alzheimer’s wing). The great majority of “nursing home” patients are there because of physical or mental infirmities that require they have assistance in many of the most basic of human functions.

The goal of the patient’s family in obtaining the best possible care for their loved one, however, sometimes conflicts with the objectives of the nursing home. Most homes are owned and operated by corporations who make money for their stockholders. This means lowering operating costs. This too often results in hiring aides and attendants with less than optimal skills, attitudes, or work ethic. The quality of medical care is also less than ideal.

Some common areas of nursing home neglect include the following:

Fall Injuries

Falls are the most common cause of injury to nursing home patients, accounting for over 75% of all nursing home injuries. Often a family member requires assistance in getting out of bed, walking, bathing, etc. For some, this may mean a wheeled walker and raised bed side rails. Others may need the assistance of one or two trained assistants in getting in or out of bed or going to the bathroom. For still others, transport may require a wheelchair, gurney, or bedside commode.

Nursing homes are required to do a thorough assessment of each patient’s “fall risk” at admission and continue to assess on an ongoing basis. If a nursing facility fall resulted in serious injury or death to your family member, you need the advice and counsel of a lawyer who is experienced in the issues and has a proven record of success in obtaining the compensation such serious matters deserve.

Pressure Sores — Decubitus Ulcers

Bedsores are a serious medical condition. These are most often seen in bedridden patients, where they experience pressure on an area which has a thin layer of skin and a bony prominence, such as tailbone, shoulder blade, heels, and elbow. They can be quite painful and, if not properly treated, become infected. The most dangerous area for a pressure sore is the tailbone where, because of exposure to fecal matter or urine, an open sore is at high risk for infection.

The best cure for pressure sores is prevention. This means the nursing staff must frequently reposition (every 2 hours) the bedridden patient and be on alert for redness or other signs of breakdown of the skin in vulnerable areas. Federal regulations require nursing homes to implement procedures to prevent and timely treat pressure ulcers, and they are responsible in damages unless the resident’s medical condition proves the pressure ulcer was unavoidable.

If your loved one developed a pressure sore that has not been promptly and adequately treated, consult with one of our injury lawyers today.

Wandering and Elopement

When a patient enters a nursing home, the home is required to create a “care plan.” The patient’s risk for wandering and elopement should be a substantial consideration within this care plan. Taking precautions to prevent wandering inside or elopement out of the facility is important because of the risk of injury when the resident wanders into an area not intended for patient care. Elopement occurs where a resident, incapable of adequate self care, leaves the facility unsupervised and unnoticed and is thereby put in jeopardy of injury. Most good nursing homes have systems in place and procedures to minimize the risk of elopement, including proper staff training, timely response, and alarm systems. If your family member suffered injury because of inadequate preventative systems, get the advice of one of our injury lawyers.

Over Medication and Medication Errors

Thankfully, through government regulation, the nursing home industry is less inclined to control the behavior of residents through the use of “chemical restraints” – high-power tranquilizers which can turn the resident into a compliant semi-vegetable. Unfortunately, such ill treatment does occasionally occur and may require intervention. Medication errors are too often the source of patient injury or death. This results from a combination of many factors, including the patient’s fragile health status, the need for multiple medications, and/or physician, pharmacist, or nursing error. If you believe your family member has been seriously injured or killed by medication errors, a consult with our injury lawyers may be in order.

Undue Delay in Diagnosis or Treatment

While we recognize that medicine is as much an art as a science and that not all illnesses or injuries are immediately diagnosed, there is no excuse for permitting the patient to experience extreme pain symptoms for days or weeks without significant medical intervention. For those who suffer permanent injury or death as a result of such neglect, there is help.

Contact the experienced injury attorneys at Plymale & Dingus today for a free consultation.