Individuals would prefer to keep their senior loved ones at home with them, but this isn’t always possible for a range of reasons. When they must take this step, they do so believe the staff at their selected nursing home will take good care of their loved one. Sadly, this isn’t always the case. However, they have a duty to provide care that is considered reasonable and adequate. If they do not provide this care, the legal system may determine the nursing home and its staff acted negligently. This holds whether the neglect involves the individual’s medical, physical, mental, or social needs.
Neglect comes in many forms. The home may not provide adequate nutrition for its residents or intentionally ignore a resident who requests help. In certain cases, the neglect rises to the level where authorities may bring criminal charges against staff members and the nursing home itself. Sadly, some individuals lose their lives before the neglect becomes apparent. When this occurs, the family may sue those responsible for the loss of their loved one. Kania Law Office helps these families get the justice they deserve while ensuring they hold the responsible parties accountable.
What is Neglect?
Men and women must recognize neglect serves as inaction by one or more individuals. They fail to provide patients with the necessary care. At times, staff members neglect a person unintentionally or do so in a non-malicious manner. This doesn’t excuse their actions, as the legal system still considers this negligence on their part and authorities may bring criminal charges against staff members or the nursing home. However, some cases of neglect come as the result of a lazy staff member, maliciousness, or incompetence.
The federal government recognized this as an issue and address nursing home reforms in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987. This law also put into place protections for patients. It defines neglect in a nursing home as a “failure to provide goods and services necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness.” This broad definition allows neglect in many forms to be addressed.
Examples of Negligence by Nursing Home Staff Members
If there is any failure of staff members in a nursing home to provide reasonable, expected care, they neglect the patient under current law. Their well-being must be the priority at all times, and the intent of the negligent party doesn’t come into play. Nursing home neglect comes in many forms.
A failure to provide adequate medical, mental health, or dental care serves as negligence. Staff members must monitor the health conditions of each patient and provide appropriate hygiene care. They must keep patients clean after incontinence and their rooms and living areas sanitary and at all times. Each patient must have help to move around, and staff members need to ensure they get enough food, hydration, and nutrition. These serve as only a few of many forms of neglect seen in nursing homes, and there are several others. If a family member has a question regarding the actions of staff members at a nursing home and whether these actions or inactions rise to the level of neglect, they should consult an attorney for advice.
The potential consequences of neglect vary by the type of neglect, as does the severity of these consequences. Nutritional deficiencies often appear as a mild form of neglect, but a person may lose their life before anyone detects their failure to provide the appropriate care. Many cases of neglect physically harm patients, but sometimes loved ones see the consequences in the mental and emotional health of the nursing home residents. Neglect in a patient’s hygiene could bring about physical and emotional harm, while some types of negligence led to mental anguish, loneliness, and more.
Regardless of the type or severity of the neglect, no senior should end up in this position. They come to the home because the family feels they cannot provide the necessary level of care, so they are turning this task over to individuals who can. Any failure by the nursing home needs to be explained, and the facility needs to make corrections to ensure it doesn’t happen again to the same resident or another person living in the home.
Rising to the Level of Malpractice
Certain instances of nursing home neglect reach the level of criminal activity. Any time staff members neglect a patient to the point where it could be considered abuse, staff members must report this to the proper authorities so an investigation may occur. Nevertheless, families may take legal action with any case of neglect involving their loved one. The legal system allows them to file a civil lawsuit to hold the responsible parties accountable. The lawsuit may cite liability, negligence, or malpractice. Furthermore, the family will find they may sue the staff members involved or the nursing home facility itself and its owners.
Nevertheless, the family must prove four things to win their malpractice suit in court. First, they must show the medical professional had a duty to care for the affected resident and they failed to meet that duty of care. This breach of care resulted in the patient being harmed and the harm led to serious damages. If the family cannot prove all four points, they don’t have a case.
People might assume negligence must involve medical care for them to win their lawsuit, but that is not the situation. Although medical malpractice may involve negligence by one or more individuals, many negligence cases aren’t related to this care. If the family can provide the facility failed to provide reasonable care of any type for their loved one, they need to seek justice for the affected individual.
If your loved one has suffered harm or neglect in a nursing home, seek legal advice. However, before doing so, make certain you have moved the loved one to a safe place where they will receive proper care. Once this step has been completed, contact an attorney right away. Men and women who do so know they have done everything possible to prevent a continuation of the behaviors that harmed their loved ones. This gives them some peace of mind during a troublesome time in their lives.