Older adults are moving into nursing homes and other care facilities at an increased rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost two million people in our country now live in nursing homes. The unfortunate correlation is that an increasing number of older adults now suffer injury or abuse at the hands of the very persons charged with their care.
Often these injuries are caused by the negligence of the nursing home staff, but injuries and abuse also result from the deliberate actions of caregivers. Therefore, it is essential to not only be aware of the risks of negligence but also well informed of the signs, symptoms, and rights of those injured at the hands of the caregivers we entrust. Recognizing the signs can be heartbreaking, and even life-changing, but critical in protecting your loved ones.
Family members of nursing home residents and hospital patients need to know the different signs of hospital negligence and nursing home negligence in Maryland. It is also important to know who is responsible for the neglect, and how to report cases if or when they arise. Call a skilled nursing home abuse attorney for help.
What is Hospital and Nursing Home Negligence?
Hospital negligence and nursing home negligence can take on numerous different forms, and vary in severity. First, there is changes in the patient’s condition and insufficient attention paid to patient monitoring. In a healthy environment, this typically means that the staff is keeping up with the condition and needs of the patient. For instance, they are:
- Taking Vitals
- Writing Down Results And Data
- Assessing And Reporting Any Changes In The Patient’s Condition To Follow Up
- Keeping The Patient’s Chart Up To Date
Unfortunately, hospital settings can be very busy and stressful. If not correctly run, or if the staff is exhausted, changes in a patient’s condition can very easily be missed. Often in this type of environment and setting, the primary caretaker of the patient (usually a friend or family member) is the one to pick up on the signs of a change in condition. Regardless of if the changes are positive or negative, they should be noted and observed by medical professionals. This is essential, for instance, if a medication dosage needs to be adjusted because a patient’s pain is decreasing.
If you have noticed a change in the condition of the patient, it is important to tell a hospital staff member as soon as you notice it. Changes in condition could be:
- Weight Gain Or Loss
- Emotional Concerns
- Anxiety Or Depression
Regardless, the consequences could be fatal. Sometimes, the patient must be relocated immediately as a result of a change in condition.
Failing to Consult with a Specialist
One form of negligence is the failure to consult with a specialist. Health care providers are supposed to examine, conduct tests, make referrals if necessary, and diagnose. When they do not do these things, it can be considered medical malpractice or negligence. As a result, the patient is either receiving the wrong treatment, no treatment, or seeing the wrong specialist. Such delays in getting the right diagnosis can cause decreases in the quality of life of the patient. In worse case scenarios, it can also be fatal.
If this does happen and you notice it, you may have to take action. This could mean notifying appropriate agencies for seniors, seeking compensation for any additional bills and charges including loss of quality in life, and other damages suffered by the patient. You may also want to consult an attorney, especially one who is experienced in handling elderly abuse and negligence. Also, if the doctor does not refer a senior patient who is living in a nursing home to a specific specialist, other complications can occur. This is necessary to do for further evaluation, and testing and diagnosis.
Here at KBA Attorneys, we have your best interests at heart. KBA Attorneys provides professional legal assistance to victims of these types of negligence cases. Our experienced Maryland nursing home negligence lawyers are knowledgeable on these lawsuits and want to help victims get the compensation that is owed to them. Let us help you fight back.
Improper Hydration and Nutrition
Such negligence can result in changes in weight. But the repercussions do not stop there. There can be plenty of causes of weight loss, such as:
- Inappropriate Medication Dosages
- Gastrointestinal Tract Disorders
- Hyper And Hypothyroidism
- Depression And Anxiety
Sometimes, however, it is just the loss of appetite or improper nutrition and sustenance. Elderly patients in the nursing home should be given regular meals and continuously be monitored. If patients are not being adequately monitored and cared for, especially around mealtimes, then you may have to take action.
Failing to Treat Pain
Another form of negligence is the failure to treat pain. Sometimes this is hard to detect in patients with certain conditions that prevent them from expressing themselves sufficiently. Such conditions are dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It is the trained staff who are supposed to pick up on subtle clues and be in tune with their patients. If you notice any discomfort that seems to go unnoticed, let someone know. This could include:
- Rigid Posture
- Facial Expressions
- Randomly Crying Out
- Unexpected Emotions Like Fear Or Anger
If you reach out and nothing is being done, you may need to consult an attorney for further guidance.
The nursing home staff could potentially make mistakes with nursing home resident’s medications. Such occurrences can happen more often than you think, even in reputable institutions. The most common types are as follows:
- Not Following Instructions
- Improper Medication Handling
- Improper Dosage
- Missed Dosages Or Inappropriate Dosage Times
- Poor Monitoring
For instance, some medication needs to be crushed, others need to be taken with food or without food, and others need to be taken right before bed. Some medicines must not be taken at the same time, whereas other medications need to be spaced out at specific intervals. These are things to be aware of and to report to the staff or administration if you notice anything harmful happening.
Who is Liable for Nursing Home Neglect?
The facility is the liable party for neglect unless otherwise stated, in most cases. Negligence can arise out of:
- Improper Staff Training
- Inadequate Staff Numbers
- Exhausted Staff
- Failure Of Staff To Meet Regulations
Even if a specific staff member is found to be the cause, the facility is still usually held liable as the facility is responsible for the qualifications and hiring of its staff.
In the case, Janice Rogers v. Genesis Healthcare LLC and Regency Care of Arlington, the facility was liable and sued. Regency Care of Arlington is a nursing home in Virginia that was sued in 2015 for nursing home negligence. According to Medicare.gov’s Nursing Home Compare function, Regency Care of Arlington received a 1/5 rating for their health inspection. The nursing home was recently cited for 8 violations.
You can read more about Regency Care of Arlington Lawsuits in our blog.
How and Where Do Nursing Home Negligence Incidents Get Reported?
There are several ways and places you can report:
- Local Police
- Adult Protective Services Agency
- State Hotlines
- U.S. Administration On Aging At www.Eldercare.Gov (For More Information On Where To Report Senior Neglect)
There are also agencies in place to protect the elderly, such as the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime – Elder Abuse and Mistreatment, and the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.
Nursing Home Negligence Claims
There are two main types of claims that can be filed against nursing homes and their employees. The first is that the nursing home owners and employees can be held liable for pain and suffering caused by negligence and abuse. The second is wrongful death caused by nursing home negligence. Other types of claims include violations of regulations, poor maintenance, and violations of criminal statutes.
Hospital and Nursing Home Negligence Lawsuit Settlements
A settlement is when there is a resolution to a case without going to trial. There will be an agreed upon amount of monetary compensation paid to the plaintiff who will then stop pursuing legal action. Most nursing home abuse cases are settled and never have a jury trial. According to a study published by Health Affairs, about 8% of nursing home cases went to trial.
It is difficult to predict hospital and nursing home negligence settlement amounts. Each case has various factors such as unique evidence, witnesses, and facts that will determine a settlement amount. However, a study published by Health Affairs in 2003 found that the average settlement amount was around $406,000. Texas and Florida have reports of a higher average settlement amount.
Read our blog on how much your nursing home negligence case may be worth for more information.
Nursing Home Negligence Case Settlement
Shirley Burrows, a 72-year old woman in New York was awarded $1.2 million in damages caused by nursing home neglect by Newfane Rehabilitation and Health Center. Burrows developed severe bedsores that became infected and exposed bone from her lower back.
“This is the sort of thing we see over and over again at different nursing homes. All they’re doing is documenting, but not actually treating the wounds,” Michael C. Lancer, Burrows’ attorney said in a statement.
Call Our Attorneys if Your Loved One Experiences Nursing Home Neglect in Maryland
Sometimes when you report an incident to a staff member, you are met with a problematic response. While they might be the expert in medicine, you are the expert in knowing your loved one. Here are some common nursing home negligence cases:
- Bedsores And Infectious
- Assaults (Physical Or Sexual) By Anyone
- Improper Monitoring
- Improper Medication Practices And Procedures
- Preventable Injuries
Here a KBA Attorneys, we focus on ethics, character, compassion, determination, expertise, and results. Through communication, transparency, and trust, we strive to work with you to ensure justice is restored. We are a team of professional hospital & nursing home negligence lawyers who are committed to helping you and your loved one during these rough and unexpected times. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and learn how you or your loved one could be compensated for pain and suffering caused by hospital and nursing home negligence in Maryland.