Nursing homes can be held liable for the deaths of residents who were deprived of necessary treatments. When families place loved ones in nursing homes, the facilities accept legal responsibility for the patients’ wellbeing. Death can result from injuries and illnesses that occur when residents do not receive proper care as promised.
Inadequate Medical Care
There may be grounds for a medical malpractice case against a nursing home if a resident is harmed by substandard medical care. In June 2019, a pharmacy and nursing home paid close to $13 million to the family of a retired judge. The former judge died when staff members of a nursing home failed to administer antibiotics to him.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that in cases involving Medicare patients affected by the treatments received in skilled nursing facilities, at least 59% of the adverse effects could have been avoided with proper medical supervision and care.
Patient deaths more commonly occur at hospitals or in hospital emergency departments after the patients have been transferred from the nursing homes. At this point, the patient’s illnesses or injuries tend to have reached acute levels.
A nursing home can be liable if a resident gets hurt and dies as a result of inadequate supervision. Some of the consequences of negligent supervision include:
Falls are a common sign of negligence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls account for 20% of deaths in nursing homes. Many of these falls are caused by negligence and are preventable.
Nursing homes are required to perform fall-risk assessments on all admitted residents and provide individualized plans to prevent falls. A negligence lawsuit can be filed if a nursing home’s failure to provide a safe environment results in a personal injury or death.
Choking is a common cause of patient deaths in nursing homes. When people are admitted to care facilities, assessments are carried out to determine basic needs and daily requirements. Information such as whether a person can feed himself or herself or requires assistance is established.
Serving a resident with the wrong meal or food consistency can cause choking injuries that could lead to sudden death. For example, the family of a Long Island resident was awarded $1 million for his choking death. The nurse fed him a sandwich without checking his chart, which specified pureed food.
Bedsores are also an indicator of nursing home neglect. Studies show stage 4 bedsores to have a considerably high mortality rate. Failure to treat stages 1-3 bedsores quickly could lead to stage 4 bedsores.
Bedsores can exacerbate existing illnesses and cause new ones. Nursing homes can be held liable if sores cause the premature death of a patient.
Nursing homes commonly pass off suspicious deaths as a result of medical conditions, age, or other natural causes. Unfortunately, abuse or neglect may be to blame. Therefore, it is crucial for families to establish who is responsible for the death of loved ones and help effect real change.