A recent jury verdict in New York demonstrates the potential success of a wrongful death claim against long term care facility. The victim, Edward Gardner, had been admitted to the nursing home for rehabilitation after suffering a heart attack. Gardner died two weeks later. His family sued the long term care facility for wrongful death and the jury found the facility guilty.
Allegations of nursing home neglect
According to Garner’s family, he was not fed properly, he was often left in soiled briefs for hours and allowed to fall from his wheelchair on at least two occasions, during his 14-day stay at the nursing home. Unfortunately, after his second fall from his wheelchair, he suffered internal bleeding and other complications, requiring his readmission to the hospital, where he later died.
Jury awarded $1.13 million to the family for wrongful death
Following a trial, the long term care facility was found liable for pain and suffering, deprivation of human dignity, wrongful death and medical expenses in the case brought by Gardner’s family. The jury awarded a sizeable verdict of $1.13 million.
The frightening statistics on nursing home death
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, nearly 25% of deaths each year, in the United States, take place in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Regrettably, most of these deaths are the result of patient neglect and abuse, and therefore, completely avoidable.
Common causes of wrongful death in long term care facilities
The leading causes of wrongful death in nursing homes include falls, infections, malnutrition and dehydration, assault or physical abuse and medical malpractice. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 1,800 people die each year from falls occurring in nursing homes. This is true despite the requirements in most states that a “fall-risk” assessment be conducted for all patients.
The most common infections known to cause the death of nursing home and assisted living facility patients include Human Immune Deficiency (HIV), Vancomycin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (VRSA), influenza, sepsis, and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). Failure to promptly identify, diagnose, and treat infections in patients can result in death.
Common forms of nursing home neglect
There is no excuse for a patient to become malnourished or dehydrated in a health care facility of any kind. When it does occur, most often the culprits are apathetic staff. Whether because of lack of training or lack of empathy, nursing home staff do not assist patients with eating, deny or ignore requests for fluids, and in some cases completely ignore feeding patients. Another disturbing reality is that assault and physical abuse are rampant in many long term care facilities. Assault and abuse of the elderly is a felony in every state.
Medical malpractice claims also occur in nursing home cases
Medical malpractice is often observed as the failure to diagnose a patient’s illness properly or the failure to prescribe proper medications. These failures can severely compromise a patient’s health and result in death. Although medical malpractice is most often associated with hospitals, it also occurs rather frequently in nursing homes.
If you have questions regarding nursing home neglect, or any other wrongful death issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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