We place a tremendous amount of trust into nursing homes and the care they can give our loved ones. With that trust comes responsibility and legal obligation to treat nursing home residents not only with dignity and kindness but also with professionalism that focuses on residents’ safety and well-being. Unfortunately, there can be situations where nursing homes are not meeting their legal obligations and you may have grounds for a legal claim.
Common Signs of Nursing Home Neglect
Many times the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home is the results of a sudden event, like a fall or a stroke. In other cases, a loved one’s health may have been deteriorating over time because of a chronic condition or debilitating injury or disease. While there are many medical reasons for potential for continued health decline, there are some signs of possible nursing home neglect that family members can look for:
Bruises and fall injuries.
If residents’ calls to staff for assistance go unanswered, they may be more likely to get up themselves and suffer a slip and fall accident. Staff inattentiveness could be due to understaffing or, in the worse cases, abuse.
Bedsores, or “pressure injuries,” are clinically avoidable but common injuries suffered by nursing home patients. Bedsores are wounds that develop from unrelieved pressure on the skin and can turn into very serious infections and even cause death. Often, bedsores result from an inability of the patient to move, turn over, or get out of bed so that they remain in one position for extended periods of time. The patient is therefore dependent on nursing staff to perform those functions. If the staff is not adequately caring for the patient, bedsores can be a sign of nursing home neglect.
Unexplained weight loss
Understaffed facilities may have problems feeding and giving medications to all of the residents on a routine schedule. This can lead to malnutrition, deficiencies in nutrition and other problems arising out of not getting their medications on schedule.
Understaffed nursing homes are a key reason for nursing home neglect as the result of understaffed facilities is serious health risks and vulnerability for patients. In fact, federal research indicates that as many as 90% of nursing homes in this country are understaffed. Additionally, staffing has emerged as a key indicator of COVID-19 outbreak risk in nursing homes.
How to Prove Nursing Home Is Negligent
As with any negligence claim, there are four key elements to prove your case: duty of care, breach of that care, causation, and damages. Specifically, with respect to a nursing home neglect claim, you must be able to show the following elements:
Duty of Care
The first element of negligence is to show the defendant owed you some legal duty. Its typically very clear that a nursing home owes its residents a legal duty to take reasonable and appropriate care of you or your loved one;
Breach of Care
In this element of negligence, the nursing home breached that duty by failing to do what a reasonable nursing home would have under the circumstances. If the nursing home failed to follow safety protocols or other guidelines, a clear breach of care may have occurred.
Causation to the breach of care or duty. In other words, you must be able to prove that the injuries sustained were caused by the breach of care. As in, the lack of safety protocols or understaffed nursing home caused the events surrounding the injury.
Damages often come in the form of medical bills and medical care incurred or that may be expected down the line. It’s also possible to recover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Or, in the event of death, a wrongful death claim can include additional damages such as funeral expenses, loss of companionship and other compensation for your loss.
Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Don’t wait to act if your loved one is experiencing neglect or abuse in their care facility. Our New Jersey nursing home abuse attorneys can explain your legal options, investigate your case, and help you file a claim. Don’t let injustices against your loved ones continue. Contact us today for a free consultation.