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How do I win my nursing home malpractice claim?
Just over a million people live in nursing homes throughout the United States. While the majority of these individuals receive good care that helps them through what can be a difficult time of deteriorating mental and physical health, a small percentage of the elderly do not receive adequate care. In fact, sometimes nursing home care is so poor that it is considered negligent, leading to minor or severe injuries—even death in some cases.
Whether it’s from inadequate training, understaffed facilities or simply incompetence, if you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional, you have rights.
What is Nursing Home Neglect?
Nursing home neglect occurs when a medical professional or nursing home caregiver fails to meet their legal duty to provide a standard level of care, and this sub-standard care results in harm or injury to a patient. Standard of care generally includes actions that a “prudent and reasonable person would or would not do under similar circumstances.”
Higher degrees of negligence such as willful, gross or wanton negligence may also occur if the action is not simply from inattention or thoughtlessness, but the actions of the offender are intentional and conscious, leading to a high likelihood of injury.
Most Common Types of Nursing Home Neglect
Although the types of nursing home neglect can vary, general types may include four basic categories: neglecting basic needs, neglecting personal hygiene, failing to provide social support, and failing to provide necessary medical care.
- Neglecting basic needs: Nursing home residents are entitled to clean water, adequate food and an environment that is safe from dangerous threats from staff, visitors or other residents. Failure to provide basic needs can constitute nursing home neglect.
- Neglecting personal hygiene: The elderly may require help with bathing, brushing their hair and teeth, washing their clothes, changing bed sheets and using the restroom. Failing to provide these services can be considered neglect.
- Failing to provide social support: Constant isolation, lack of social interaction, mental or physical abuse, involuntary seclusion or physical restraint can be considered neglect. Nursing homes should have social programs to engage residents and ensure that they have adequate social support.
- Failing to provide necessary medical care: Nursing homes have a duty to provide adequate medical care. Each patient should receive a comprehensive assessment and plan of care. This plan should outline the specific medical services needed by each resident, including the need for physical and occupational therapy, nursing care, nutritional intervention and speech therapy.
The appropriate medical services and programs for a patient should be consistent with their diagnosis and allow for the patient to function at the highest possible level given their current environment.
Failure to perform a medical assessment and carry out the plan can be considered nursing home neglect.
What is not Nursing Home Neglect?
Not all injuries in a nursing home are a result of nursing home neglect or abuse. Nursing home patients, by their very nature, may be very ill. Injury and death often occur in a nursing home and have nothing to do with the actions or inaction of a nursing home employee.
In some cases, for instance, the actions of the patient may have caused their own injuries; the injuries of the patient may have been inevitable given their current health condition; or there were unexpected medical complications that caused the patient's injuries.
Nursing home abuse, however, does occur and should be taken very seriously. Signs that a resident may be suffering abuse can include unsanitary living conditions, soiled clothing, signs of dehydration or malnourishment, or evidence that a patient is not receiving the proper medications.
Proving your Nursing Home Neglect Case
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from nursing home neglect, you should report your concerns immediately. In fact, state laws require certain health professionals, nursing home staff and others to report any abuse or neglect to the appropriate agency in their state.
If you or a loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse, you can also talk to a lawyer about filing a civil claim against the nursing home. If you are able to prove your nursing home neglect claim, you or the injured party may be entitled to compensation.
To win a nursing home neglect claim, you will have to prove several elements of your case:
- The nursing home owed you a duty of care.
- The nursing home breached their duty of care toward you.
- The breach of care was the proximate cause of your injuries.
- You suffered injury or loss due to the breach of care.
Nursing homes have a legal and potentially a contractual duty to provide a certain standard of care to their residents. If this care is not provided and a resident is injured, they may file a nursing home neglect claim against the nursing home and receive compensation for their injuries.