Nursing Home Negligence

Nursing Home Negligence in Brevard, Melbourne, Viera & USA

There are over 2.5 million underreported cases of nursing home negligence that happens annually in many parts of the world, including Brevard, Melbourne, Viera, and across the United States. Typically, nursing home negligence constitutes the failure by a nursing home staff or employee to exercise proper or standard care of practice to a senior adult.

There are laws in many states that protect the elderly, senior members of the community as well as other vulnerable persons, such as people living with a disability, from negligence and abuse during their stay in a nursing home. However, even with the existence of these laws, negligence is eminent in nursing homes across the world. A lot of studies attribute the rising cases of nursing home negligence to staff members, who are undertrained or continuously overworked. As a result, they tend to be careless, or negligent when handling patients as well as senior members in need of quality care. There are severe consequences of negligence, including complications suffered by residents, such as severe injuries that may lead to death.

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What to do in the case of Nursing Home Negligence?

You have every reason to be concerned if the nursing home employees fail to provide a senior member with proper care, whether deliberately or otherwise. Negligence exposes a nursing home resident to risky, if not life-threatening situations, especially in cases where a resident has an underlying serious health condition and cannot take care of themselves or engage in their activities of daily living. 

If you stay in a nursing home, or you have a close relation in a nursing home, and you suspect that they are not getting quality or standard care, it is time to take action. You can file a case of negligence suit against the nursing home for absolute failure to provide a safe environment for deserving residents, failure to maintain adequate health and safety standards and policies, or failure to provide acceptable and standard levels of care, including appropriate medical treatment/care.

Prevalent Cases of Abuse and Negligence in Nursing Homes

There many prevalent cases of home nursing negligence reported in Brevard, Melbourne, Viera, and across the USA. These cases include the following:

  • Failure to provide proper medication

There are reported cases where employees fail consistently to administer medication correctly to senior residents. Some staff may also fail to administer their drugs at all, and as a result, the patient may end up with further health risks, including untimely death. 

  • Failure to provide proper/standard care

This is another typical case of negligence in nursing homes. A staff may fail intentionally or otherwise to provide critical care and attention to highly-dependent and deserving patients. For example, a staff member may fail to reposition a patient with movement difficulties as required. The result of this type of negligence is that the patient will develop bedsores and other related complications. Most senior adults in a wheelchair or who are restrained on their beds may end up facing this type of negligence.

  • Isolation

There are reported cases where staff members seclude residents from interacting with others as a form of punishment. The patient’s social contact is cut off, and they are left to while the time away on their own. Isolation can also happen when a staff decides to restrain a presumably “troublesome” patient in their room for no plausible reason.

  • Malnutrition

When a patient is denied regular meals or if they are given meals that are lacking the right amount of nutrients, they tend to be exposed to extreme health risks. Sadly, this is the case in some of the nursing homes in Brevard, Melbourne, Viera, and across the USA.

  • Dehydration 

Typically, in some nursing homes, the residents may be denied proper liquid intake by the staff. The lack of adequate liquid intake, such as water, can lead to serious health risks and complications, including exposing them to other somewhat preventable ailments.

  • Falls

Falls constitute the highest cases of negligence among senior citizens in the US to be precise. Studies show that over 200 falls each year are reported in single standard-sized nursing homes. Yet many more go unreported, thus unrecorded. When senior members fall, because of negligence, they get injured, or their health conditions become even worse.

  • Physical abuse

Staff may resort to using physical violence or force against the elderly. Such violence always results in bodily harm, pain, and severe injuries. Other common physical abuses in nursing homes include deliberate battery and assault that are liable in a court of law.

  • Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse in nursing homes can also be referred to as elderly psychological abuse. This abuse can either be verbal or non-verbal. Emotional abuse by an employee of a nursing home may include humiliation, intimidation, infliction of fear or terror, and ridiculing a patient or a resident.

You have every reason to be concerned if the nursing home employees fail to provide a senior member with proper care, whether deliberately or otherwise. Negligence exposes a nursing home resident to risky, if not life-threatening situations, especially in cases where a resident has an underlying serious health condition and cannot take care of themselves or engage in their activities of daily living.

If you stay in a nursing home, or you have a close relation in a nursing home, and you suspect that they are not getting quality or standard care, it is time to take action. You can file a case of negligence suit against the nursing home for absolute failure to provide a safe environment for deserving residents, failure to maintain adequate health and safety standards and policies, or failure to provide acceptable and standard levels of care, including appropriate medical treatment/care.

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How to identify possible forms of Negligence in a Nursing Home?

There are many visible signs and symptoms that you can check to determine whether your loved one is neglected or abused. Other signs are physical and telling in nature. They include:

  • Sudden weight loss – When a senior person loses weight drastically, and with no compelling reason, this could be a pointer that they are being neglected. Weight loss may come as a result of malnutrition, dehydration, or severe illness. You should, therefore, put the quality of care in question whenever your loved one loses weight rapidly without any convincing reason.
  • Unexplained bruises – Bruises are common among victims of nursing home negligence. Although the elderly tend to be bruised easily as compared to young people, some bruises could be caused by abuse or neglect by the staff of a nursing home. In case you notice any unexplained bruises, wounds, bite marks, cuts, burn marks, or sores on your loved one’s body, then carry out thorough investigations to determine the causes possible.
  • Complaints by the elderly – You may notice consistent complaints by your loved one on delayed or inadequate services by the nursing home. You should take such claims seriously because they are a clear indication that abuse or negligence is present. For example, if your loved one is complaining of a lack of timely attention by the staff, such as, whenever he or she wants to use the bathroom, and possibly they can’t move on their own, then you may need to take appropriate action to address the situation.
  • Moodiness Moodiness in residents, who are instead expected to be active and energetic, can be a sign that the staff of a nursing home could be abusing them emotionally. Other symptoms of emotional abuse include low self-esteem, sudden changes in moods, lack of eye contact, and poor sleeping patterns. Your loved one can also refuse to eat or to speak openly to you during your visit. This may be a clear indicator that they are emotionally abused.
  • Unhygienic conditions – You can quickly determine a case of negligence by observing the hygiene of patients and the state of their environment. Neglected patients or residents may not be assisted to undertake their activities of daily living as required, including washing and cleaning. Their clothes or bedding could also be left unchanged. Patients or residents may also be complaining of poor quality of food and dirty drinking water.

How to File a Nursing Home Negligence Lawsuit?

Once you have enough reasons to believe that your loved one is neglected by a nursing home, contrary to the law and standards of care practice for residents of a nursing home, you can decide to file a lawsuit against the nursing home. 

However, you should be aware that laws on negligence vary are state-specific. As such, you should consult an experienced lawyer, specializing in nursing home negligence and abuse-related lawsuits to guide you through the process.

Four Crucial Factors about Nursing Home Lawsuits

In case you decide to make a legal claim for injuries and abuse sustained by your loved one in a nursing home, you need to familiarize yourself with what the process is like and how you will go about proving the damages. The following are four critical areas that you should focus on to help you to succeed in your lawsuit:

  • How to bring a lawsuit

You may decide to instigate a civil suit against the nursing home as a way of pursuing a claim for injuries or abuse coming from a nursing home. It is advisable to use the services of a reputable lawyer to work your way out.

In a civil lawsuit, you will file a petition or a complaint with the court clerk of your local county or state court. The nursing home then responds to your petition by filing their papers in court. Afterward, all the parties enter a period referred to as ”discovery.” This is where both parties exchange documents. You also introduce your witnesses during this time.

Parties are then given time to negotiate an out of court settlement if they consider it worthy. It is advisable to involve your lawyer in every step of the negotiation process. If you fail to reach an out-of-court resolution of the case, the court will be forced to schedule a trial.

  • How to prove the case in a trial 

At the trial, the burden of proof will lie solely on you and your lawyer. Proving a case of negligence can be a legwork, and thus, it calls for thorough preparation. You will be required by the court to demonstrate the following legal elements of negligence in court:

  • You must prove that a nursing home owed a duty of care to the resident as indicated in the care contract that you signed;
  • You must verify that a nursing home breached the duty of care to the resident contrary to the contract that you signed. Prove the nursing home did something or failed to do something they should have done to protect the needs of the victim;
  • You should also prove that the resident suffered harm or injuries as a result.

  • Types of damages

Once you have proved all the elements discussed above satisfactorily, you are also required to provide the details of the harm that the victims suffered before any damages are awarded.

Damages refer to the compensation awarded to the resident for any abuse or injury suffered in a nursing home. The following are some of the damages that can be awarded by a court:

  • Physical pain and suffering damages;
  • Emotional distress damages;
  • Mental pain and suffering damages;
  • Damages for the cost of necessary medical treatment.

A court can also decide to award damages for lost income or wages. However, this kind of damage is rare because most home nursing residents are senior members of the community, who are presumably way past the employment age.

The court can also award punitive damages on top of the compensatory damages. The punitive damages serve as a punishment and a deterrent against future abuse and negligence by the nursing homes.

  • Proving damages

Before the court award any damage, there must be sufficient proof that indeed, a nursing home resident suffered harm because of negligence or abuse.  Use the following tips to prove your damages:

  • Use of medical records – Cases of injuries that are caused by staff members, are possibly the easiest to prove. When a person is injured, they seek medical attention. Medical records related to the injury provide enough evidence that the person suffered harm.
  • Use of incident reports – Whenever an injury occurs in a nursing home, the staff and the resident are required to fill an injury incident report, documenting the critical details of the injury. The report can be a source of valuable evidence to prove your damages in a court of law.
  • Use of journals – It is challenging to document evidence related to emotional abuse cases. You can, however, use the victim’s daily entries that they make on their journals to prove this case.

The following are other documentations that can help you in proving damages in a court of law:

  • Diaries kept by your loved one;
  • Photographs showing bruises suffered by your loved one;
  • Notes detailing any conversation of a resident or members of staff;
  • Pictures of all medications prescribed for a resident and the doctor’s medical records, showing instructions on the usage of drugs;

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