Wrongful Deaths in Nursing Homes: More Common Than You Think

For millions of elderly Americans and their families, old age brings with it illnesses and infirmities that lead to a situation that many dread — the inability to continue to live on one’s own.

The burden of full-time caretaking of elderly parents or injured family members is too heavy for most to bear. Many families reluctantly place their loved one into a nursing home, trusting in the professionalism and expertise of the nursing home and its staff to provide the nutritional, medical and personal care that they are unable to provide themselves. Unfortunately, with the elderly population only getting larger and the demand for nursing home care increasing, there is a greater risk for nursing home abuse and neglect that can even lead to death.

Nursing home abuse and neglect can take many forms. Abuse can be verbal or physical, involve isolation or other psychologically damaging tactics, or sexual molestation and intentional medically unnecessary restraint.

Neglect by a nursing home can be due to understaffing, lack of adequate training for professional staff, unsanitary conditions or other causes, and can lead to the following harmful or fatal conditions:

  • Dehydration and malnutrition
  • Bedsores
  • Falls
  • Serious infection
  • Depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders

Not only the elderly are at risk. One case in point involved a 36-year old man who was brain-damaged in an accident and placed in a Maricopa County nursing home, where he died. Though the nursing home was informed before his admission that he had a tendency to try to eat non-edible items, the autopsy report showed that he had consumed packets of ketchup, paper towels, candy wrappers and plastic bags. The case settled for $11,000,000.

Proving a case of nursing home abuse or neglect can be complicated. Often nursing homes will record on the patient’s medical chart that the patient was fed, changed, given exercise or that other care has been provided even when it has not. Analysis by experienced legal professional can reveal when such records have been falsified.

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