Making the decision to place a loved one in a long-term care organization such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or board and care homes is never an easy decision. When you make that decision you put your trust into that organization to take care of your loved one. Around the country, more than 3.2 million patients are in nursing homes, and with that comes a number of organizations to choose from. Sadly, not all nursing home organizations provide patients with the around the clock care and respect they all deserve.
Many families place their loved ones in nursing homes with expectations that well-trained and experienced medical professionals and caretakers will treat their loved ones with the upmost standard of care. In reality, the issue of nursing home neglect has become a growing concern. According to one study, more than 50% of nursing home employees have admitted to mistreating older patients (e.g., physical violence, mental abuse, and neglect), with two-thirds of those incidents involving patient neglect. Another study revealed that 44% of nursing home residents claimed that they had been abused, and 95% of them said they had been neglected or seen another patient neglected, National Center of Elder Abuse. This same study reports that 29% of patients are subject to physical abuse, 21% report psychological abuse, and 14% reported gross neglect.
Finding out that your trust has been abused and your loved one has been mistreated is difficult to deal with. When that loved one has been hurt by the negligent act of another the law provides you and your family protection. It is a comfort during this time to know that your lawyer is fighting to get you or your loved one everything the law says you are entitled to.
In North Carolina, nursing home negligence can refer to a wide range of actions. As with many families, when you place your loved one in the care of a nursing home organization and their personnel, there is a variety of care and treatment your loved one is expected to receive. This could mean receiving routine medication, medical procedures, or other types of aid more specific to the patient. With this level of close personal attention required by nursing home staff and personnel, any negligence on the part of the nursing home can result in serious or fatal implications for the patient.
In legal parlance, negligence is another way of saying a person failed to act with reasonable care. The opportunity for negligence in nursing homes is ubiquitous. If medical professionals in nursing homes fail to provide patients with the proper medication or dosage could rise to negligence. A misuse of medical equipment or failure to meet sanitation standards could also constitute negligence. The seriousness of failing to treat patients with reasonably care can have life-threating consequences.
To bring a successful negligence action against a nursing home, we will establish that the nursing home owed the patient a duty to adhere to a particular standard of care, whose violation resulted in harm to the patient. This could be satisfied in many ways. For example, by accepting residents into its facility pursuant to a written contract, most nursing homes voluntarily assume the responsibility of providing care and protection to vulnerable patients who are unable to care for and protect themselves. This resulting custodial relationship gives rise to the nursing home’s affirmative duty to exercise reasonable care to safeguard patients from all foreseeable harms.
Although the existence of a duty of care owed by a nursing home to a resident is a matter of law, the particular standard of care required on the part of the nursing home will be a question of fact, depending on the circumstances of each case. Therefore, when determining whether or not the applicable standard of care was exercised will depend on relevant facts such as, but not limited to, the patient’s conditions, local statutes and regulations governing assisted living facilities, and perhaps features of the nursing home’s environment.
Once we have established the nursing home’s applicable standard of care with respect to the injured patient, we will assess and demonstrate how the nursing home’s care of the patient failed to meet the specified standard. This may require proving that the nursing home had actual or constructive knowledge of the patient’s physical or mental conditions, if any, that imposes a duty on the nursing home to monitor and protect the patient. Failure to provide appropriate supervision and protection may constitute a breach, which we would then describe the particular acts or omissions that constitute the breach.
Once there has been a breached of a duty on the part of the nursing home, evidence of compensable injury must be offered. The injury the patient suffers is typically not in dispute and, in most cases, is readily apparent. Nevertheless, it is advisable to offer a physician’s testimony or other medical diagnoses reflecting the exact nature and scope of the injuries.
Following the injuries, the experienced attorneys at Rosensteel Fleishman, PLLC will demonstrate the causal link between the nursing home’s conduct at the patient’s injuries. Ultimately, this establishes that but-for the nursing home’s actions (or inactions) the patient would not have suffered injuries. Furthermore, because of the close relationship between the nursing home and the patient, there are reasonably foreseeable risks associated with the nursing home’s conduct that would deem them responsible for any resulting injuries.
A nursing home neglect claim can be emotionally difficult and involve complex legal analyses. At Rosensteel Fleishman we take the time to listen to our clients to help them through such a difficult situation. We work each case from every angle to put the law to work for our clients. Contact us today to review your case, there is no fee for the initial consultation. Whether you call, come in the office or request a home visit you will speak directly with an experienced attorney who can answer your questions.