If you are concerned that a loved one may be the victim of nursing home negligence, you may many questions about what constitutes negligence. Some residents might experience a form of nursing home abuse, while others are appropriately cared for and are suffering from the natural course of their illness. When neglect occurs, the nursing home can be held liable for damages, as a personal injury lawyer Coeur d’Alene ID trusts would explain. Sometimes nursing homes hire third parties to perform services, and they may also be held liable for neglect too.
Abuse vs. Neglect
Nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect can be distinguished by the element of intent. When a resident is abused, it’s the intent of a person to make harmful physical contact with the resident, or cause her verbal humiliation. With neglect, there is no such intent. Neglect turns more on acts or omissions that are deviations from the standard of care. These deviations can harm a resident and result in serious physical or mental harm entitling the victim to money damages. Here are some common examples of nursing home neglect.
Most nursing homes are for-profit entities, but the needs of residents can’t be sacrificed for the annual bottom line. Most nursing homes receive federal funds. On that basis, federal regulations have been put in place that can prohibit a person from working in a nursing home if he or she is on a national list of individuals who are barred from working in federally-funded facilities. Violations of these regulations can endanger residents, and the penalties for violations can be severe. Before hiring job applicants, proper background checks must be made.
Insufficient staffing places the health and welfare of nursing home residents at risk. Common issues that follow from understaffing are bed or pressure sores, dehydration, malnutrition, and falls involving residents with mobility issues. If a nursing home doesn’t have proper staff, it breaches the applicable standard of care, especially when insufficient staffing results in employees undertaking tasks that they’ve never been trained for.
Emotional issues can arise with nursing home residents who have been neglected. As a result, they might become apprehensive in expressing themselves about difficulties that are affecting them. They might seclude themselves from friends and family and become depressed. Any such issues need to be addressed right away, as they can grow into a situation in which a resident starts neglecting herself. Examples of neglecting oneself would be not eating, or not taking medication. Expect personal hygiene to start deteriorating too.
These errors are common mistakes in nursing homes across the country. They’re made across the board by doctors, nurses and caregivers. They can include the wrong dosage, incorrect administration of the drug, or even the wrong drug itself. Sometimes residents themselves make these errors too. Most medication errors are harmless, but some can cause permanent injury or death. A nurse should verify that the correct resident is receiving the correct medication at the correct dose that has been prescribed by the resident’s physician. Then it must be administered properly. Medication errors often originate with understaffing issues.
Nursing home staff must focus on the environment surrounding their residents. Nearly all nursing home injuries are preventable. Residents who are seen regularly by staff, physicians, friends and family have far less of a chance of suffering from nursing home neglect. Watch for physical and emotional signs of distress. If they appear, bring them to the immediate attention of the nursing home’s staff and administration.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from the Bendell Law Firm for their insight into nursing home negligence.