Negligence at Nursing Homes
Many of us have had a loved one who resided in a nursing home or elder care facility. Sometimes as people age their mental or physical health can result in them needing frequent medical care and constant supervision that would not be possible if they stayed in a private home. Unfortunately, many nursing homes do not manage to live up to the standards that we would hope for, and reports of abuse and neglect in these facilities are far more common than we would hope. In fact, more than 90% of residents state that they or another resident in their facility has suffered from neglect. These numbers are frighteningly high, especially because the real numbers are likely much higher, as many residents of nursing homes cannot communicate due to their conditions, and others are afraid of being retaliated against if they speak out. So what can you do if you have been subjected to this form of abuse or if you see signs that your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect? The law gives you the opportunity to seek compensation from nursing homes that have been negligent or abusive, and to hold those facilities accountable for their actions.
Most claims against nursing homes will involve some claim of negligence. The injured party must show that the nursing home owed the injured person a duty, that the facility breached that duty, and that the breach of that duty was the cause of an injury or injuries to the plaintiff. The negligence in these cases can involve many different scenarios, including but not limited to:
- Failure to make the premises safe - Nursing home facilities have residents who often are at risk for falls. It is important for the facilities to minimize these risks, and remove hazards.
- Negligent care of the resident - This would include inadequate supervision of a resident. If the resident is likely to wander off the premises or has trouble moving around the facility safely, then the facility should be carefully monitoring that individual.
- Negligent hiring of staff - If a facility has hired someone who has a recorded history of elder abuse, this would be a clear case of negligent hiring. Additionally, if the nursing home kept an employee despite knowledge of that employee's abuse of residents, that would be grounds for a case for negligence against the facility as well.
- Negligent medical care, such as failing to properly administer medications - Nursing homes often handle medical care, such as administering medications to patients. If the staff has been administering the wrong drugs, wrong amounts of drugs or failing to administer prescriptions to a patient, then that would also create the basis for a negligence case against the nursing home.
In addition to negligence, there are situations where a resident might have experienced actual abuse at the hands of staff. This could include physical or sexual assault, verbal abuse, unnecessary physical confinement, or the administration of high levels of sedatives to restrain the patient. When nursing home staff commit these acts against residents, the nursing home facility can often be held accountable through vicarious liability, or "respondeat superior," which are legal doctrines that can create liability for a person or entity that did not directly cause the harm, but that is in a special relationship, such as employer employee, with the individual who did cause the harm.
If you have suffered from or suspect a loved one has suffered from abuse or neglect at a nursing home, you should consider speaking with an attorney. Finding an advocate can help to ensure that your rights are protected, and that the perpetrators of the abuse are held accountable for their actions.
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