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Nursing Home Negligence

Overview

Nursing home negligence

Nursing home negligence is a serious allegation that can occur over a long period of time, or culminate in an acute event. Eventually, the issue can create the need for legal action to be taken against those who perpetrated the negligence. Your loved one may not be able to clearly communicate what is happening or may be too afraid to tell you openly. This blog will guide you through the process of opening a nursing home negligence case, so you can help protect those you love from poor treatment.

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How to react to nursing home negligence

Nursing home negligence is any action or lack of action on the part of a nursing home or employees that causes harm or personal injury to the nursing home resident. When someone lives in a nursing home, they rely on the staff to act correctly and take care of those who are under their supervision. Negligence may also be caused due to a policy in effect or practice in use at the nursing home.

It’s important to pay close attention to signs of neglect or elder abuse and be proactive in addressing any issues with the correct authorities. This issue is more common across nursing homes than you might think. According to the Australian Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, “Around 39.2% of people living in Australian aged care facilities experience elder abuse in the form of neglect.

If you find that your aged family member has been subjected to nursing home neglect, both they and you have the right to compensation through a negligence claim.

 Here are some examples:

  • Physical abuse of elderly patients.
  • Emotional abuse and non-verbal abuse of elderly patients.
  • Financial abuse.
  • Sexual abuse of the elderly.
  • Abuse of elderly patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Permitting elderly patients to suffer from malnutrition.
  • Failure to prevent and/or treat bedsores.

 

Keep in mind that not all harm is caused by negligence, so having a lawyer who can help you differentiate is key. It’s important for nursing homes to be vigilant to prevent elder abuse, but in some cases, a catastrophic injury could be purely accidental and non-preventable. Nursing homes have a responsibility to keep their nursing home residents safe, but the reaction to potential negligence should be calculated. The first step is to gather information and seek professional advice.

What is considered negligence in Nursing?

A nursing home has a duty of care that must be maintained and adhered to closely. Negligence includes:

Physical mishandling of elderly patients

Careless handling by a staff member can cause a nursing home resident to bang into a wall or a piece of furniture, slip, fall, or otherwise sustain an injury. Not only can the victim become mentally or physically wounded, mishandling can also lead to wrongful death. 

General neglect and lack of compassion for the elderly

Neglect of a resident concerning their personal and medical needs can include ignoring that they need help toileting or bathing, allowing them to stay unwashed or in dirty clothes, or not adhering to medication schedules for pain relief or other symptoms.

Medical dosage errors

This can include negligence in the type of medication given to the resident, the dosage or number of medications given, the method of medication administration, the timing of medication administration, and failure to properly document all medications and administration processes.

Surgical and aftercare errors

A surgical error can cause infection, sepsis, amputation, disability, or even death. Surgical aftercare is often provided in the nursing home and is a point at which elderly patients are particularly vulnerable. Medical negligence is often seen in these nursing home situations.

Failure to adequately treat infections

Untreated, even the most minor infections can swiftly escalate into life-threatening illnesses. Medical neglect such as failing to treat an infection (such as a UTI or an ear infection) can lead to extreme illness and even death.

Failure to provide diagnoses and referrals

Residents can be put at serious risk due to any failure to accurately diagnose life-threatening illnesses and provide timely referrals to appropriate medical specialists. This can be considered physical abuse. 

Failure to provide adequate hygienic supervision

Many residents require supervision and help regarding bedding, personal care, showering and general hygiene. Failure on the part of the nursing home staff to provide oversight and assistance is a failure to discharge the duty of care.

Failing to detect malnutrition

Deliberate malnutrition of a resident is abuse, not neglect. However, if malnutrition isn’t deliberate, but goes unnoticed, a claim for negligence can be made. This can lead to emotional abuse as well. 

Other negligence claims may arise from the nursing home, nursing facility, assisted living facility, or aged care facility-related issues, such as failing to ensure that adequate health and safety audits are undertaken.

Process

Who can file a nursing home abuse case?

What are your options if your loved ones were injured in a nursing home? You may well have a case for nursing home negligence, but you’ll need to take action as swiftly as possible. Time is of the essence with a neglect claim.

There is a statute of limitations which is typically three years from the date of discovery of the negligence, and up to 12 years from the date the negligence occurred. The first step if you suspect your loved one has been subjected to negligence from a long-term care facility is to contact a personal injury lawyer. 

People who are incapacitated due to mental disorders or intellectual handicaps may have additional time to bring a case. You should gather all possible evidence of the neglect, including your loved one’s charts and take comprehensive photographs of any physical evidence (whether on their body or of conditions in the nursing home). Note anyone who may be able to provide more evidence or testimony, and alert your lawyer.

Receiving compensation for nursing home abuse

While there may also be a case to be made against a specific employee, most of the time the nursing home is the primary party held liable for harm or injury done to a resident. They have a duty of care to not only avoid causing harm, but to prevent it when at all possible. 

While significant monetary damages are limited to the maximum payable for pain, suffering and general embarrassment (approximately $550,000), you may also be able to receive compensation for the following:

  • Medical care and treatment costs (past, present, and future).
  • Comprehensive legal costs (to relieve the burden on the victim and/or family).
  • Wage losses, when applicable (residual investment earnings curtailed by untimely death).
  • Exemplary damages (beyond the maximum, in cases of outrageous conduct by the institution).
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Why hire a nursing home negligence lawyer?

Successfully bringing a nursing home negligence case to court can be a complex and drawn-out process. You need a practiced lawyer on your side to help you navigate the claim and get the maximum possible compensation for your loved one or surviving family members. Gerard Malouf & Partners is a law firm that can help you understand this process in an initial, no-obligation, free consultation where we can provide you with legal advice from a nursing home abuse Lawyer. 

Our nursing home abuse lawyers understand you are already undergoing extreme amounts of stress on behalf of your loved one. For more information, contact us.

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For decades, the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners have been leading the way and fighting for people just like you. Whether you’ve been wronged through a motor accident, public liability, medical negligence, workers’ compensation issue, or other dispute, our solicitors and barristers have a winning history you can rely on. If your back pain has negatively impacted your quality of life, it is time to take action.

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