In a perfect world, no one would ever have to live in a nursing home. In a perfect world, we would all have the resources to take care of our loved ones at home. Unfortunately, this just isn’t possible in most cases. Consequently, we should entrust the care of our loved ones to nursing homes, nursing homes that promise us they will take proper care of our loved ones but often fall short of that.
Many nursing home residents are ill, frail, or incapable of taking care of themselves. It is the responsibility of nursing home workers to provide the care and attention that is required to keep residents healthy and safe. Unfortunately, many facilities simply either do not have enough staff nor adequately trained staff to care for their residents. Residents are abused or neglected by staff members and sometimes other patients, even to the point where (otherwise preventable) fatalities may result.
If you believe that your loved one was the victim of nursing home abuse that leads to the loss of their life, please contact our Kansas City, Missouri offices for a free consultation about taking legal action against those responsible for your loss.
Examples of Nursing Home Wrongful Death
It is reasonable to expect a nursing home to properly care for your loved one. All nursing homes are required to provide nutrients, medical attention, and supervision to every resident. Tragically, abuse and neglect are still widely prevalent in nursing homes across the country. A nursing home wrongful death occurs when the abuse or neglect of a resident directly results in the resident’s death.
You have the right to pursue compensation for you lost a loved one due to:
- Physical Abuse: In one recent study by the National Center on Elder Abuse, between 7.6% and 10% of study participants experienced abuse in the prior year. Under no circumstances should a caseworker strike, push, kick, bite, pull, or slap an elderly resident. Physical abuse is a serious problem in nursing homes and it can result in fatal injuries. Caseworkers who abuse residents can face criminal charges and facilities that allow abuse to take place can be held accountable for their negligence.
- Bedsores, Decubitus Ulcers: Bedsores or pressure sores can develop in nursing homes when the patient is not properly repositioned or is not repositioned often enough to avoid stress on the skin. Good nutrition and frequent skin inspections are also critical. Specialized beds and wheelchairs that redistribute pressure and the use of various cushions and air mattresses are effective in preventing bedsores. Nursing home staff must be on high alert and aggressively treat bedsores before they become a serious threat to the patient’s well-being.
- Falls, Subdural Hematomas, Brain Injury Fractures: Nursing homes have a duty to protect the elderly from falling and sustaining fractures or head injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1,800 nursing home residents die each year from falls. (We think this number is much higher.) Many times, nursing homes do not obtain medical help promptly, and a head injury or fracture may go untreated during critical hours wherein the patient’s life may have otherwise been saved.
- Choking: Nursing home residents are often at a higher risk of choking. Semi-solid foods are the cause of many deaths due to asphyxiation in nursing homes. To prevent this, residents must be carefully monitored while eating. Other choking hazards in nursing homes sometimes involve bed railings, in which nursing home residents slip down and their heads get caught in the bed railing. With proper monitoring, there is no excuse for injuries caused by bed railing, but they nevertheless occur in institutions that are poorly staffed.
- Malnutrition and Dehydration: Nursing homes have a duty to monitor patients to make sure that they are eating and drinking adequate amounts to maintain their health. Workers must be trained to monitor patients during meal and snack times. They must be alert to how much water or food a patient is taking in, and call it to the attention of the patient’s doctor and family when the patient is not getting enough food or water. Malnutrition and dehydration can lead to wrongful death if left untreated.
- Neglect: Many facilities simply do not have enough staff to properly care for their residents. This is particularly dangerous for residents who require help with basic daily activities. Neglected residents may not receive the medical attention they require, or they may suffer from malnourishment and dehydration.
- Unhygienic Conditions: Infections can spread quickly in a nursing home, which can be dangerous for the elderly. Allowing residents to live in unclean, unhygienic conditions can also be considered a form of abuse. Infections can be deadly if treatment is delayed or ignored.
- Untreated UTIs: If left untreated, urinary tract infections (UTIs) can lead to life-threatening kidney infections. Lack of medical care can prove fatal, in such cases.
- Untreated Diabetes: Both Type I and Type II diabetes require extensive, ongoing treatment. When nursing home residents are not granted access to this vital treatment, they may suffer hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia (very low or very high blood sugar levels). This can ultimately be fatal for the individual.
- Sepsis: Sepsis occurs when the body attempts to fight off an infection by releasing chemicals into the bloodstream which then, in turn, cause widespread inflammation. Sepsis is very serious and can lead to septic shock. Immediate treatment is required.
- Rape: Sadly, sexual abuse occurs in nursing homes throughout the United States, perpetuated by both case workers and fellow residents. In extreme cases, this can have fatal consequences.
- Elopement: Nursing homes have a responsibility to ensure that their residents remain in their care. When residents elope and leave a facility, the nursing home may be liable for allowing the individual to leave. If the individual suffers injury or death as a result of leaving the facility, the nursing home may be held legally accountable.
- Mediation Errors: Most nursing home residents have an ongoing medication schedule. Incorrect dosages, failure to provide medication, overdosing, and incorrect medication can all lead to serious and fatal consequences.
Holding Nursing Homes Accountable for Wrongful Deaths
If you believe that your loved one died because of nursing home abuse or negligence, it is important that you take action as soon as possible. Learn about your legal rights and options. It may be possible to file a wrongful death claim against the parties responsible for your loss. Your actions could result in financial compensation and prevent future incidents of victimization.
For more information about your legal options, please contact Cullan & Cullan for a free case consultation with one of our Kansas City wrongful death lawyers.