Nursing homes are supposed to be safe for the elderly and infirm. They should protect residents from abuse, neglect, or other harm while providing them with the necessary care and attention. Sadly, that is not always the case. Families entrust their loved ones to nursing homes, only to have them die in preventable accidents due to negligence on behalf of nursing home staff members.
What Is Considered To Be A Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death cases are complicated legal matters. The term “wrongful” is used because someone did something wrong and injured or killed a victim, which caused their death. For a person to file such a case, there must be proof that another party acted negligently. It can include anything from a careless driver causing an accident to a doctor making a medical mistake during surgery to nursing home staff and those who work at an assisted living facility.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim?
The following people may file a wrongful death claim:
- Survivors of the deceased, such as spouses, parents, siblings, children, or grandchildren;
- Anyone who stood in loco parentis (in place of a parent) to the deceased person;
- A guardian appointed to care for the deceased’s minor child; and
- An administrator of property held under the decedent’s will.
How Can I File For Wrongful Death?
Suing a nursing home for wrongful death can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. You need to prove that the nursing home was negligent when caring for your loved one. While this may seem like an easy task, it isn’t. Because nursing homes deal with many different patients, it can be challenging to determine which individual responsible for your loved one’s death is liable. However, you may have a strong claim if you can show that the administration, a nurse, or other staff member neglected the patient.
Here are 10 Causes of Nursing Home Wrongful Deaths
1. Medical Errors
Medical errors are among the most common causes of nursing home deaths. Every day, nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals make mistakes that cause harm to their patients. These errors can range from improperly administering medication to misdiagnosis. If you suspect that your loved one died due to medical negligence, talk to an attorney to see if you have grounds for a lawsuit.
2. Negligent Nurses
Neglect is one of the leading causes of nursing home fatalities. Caregivers don’t always follow proper procedures for their patients’ needs. Sometimes they fail to take the necessary precautions, such as wearing protective gear when treating infectious diseases. Other times, they ignore obvious signs of distress and do nothing about it. Some caregivers even leave a resident alone in the bathroom, where they can fall and hurt themselves.
Falls are among the top causes of injury in nursing homes. Residents are often bedridden or confined to wheelchairs. As a result, they have limited mobility. When staff members aren’t paying close enough attention, they can easily trip over and fall.
4. Medication Errors
If a nursing home resident is given the wrong medication dosage, they could suffer serious side effects. Nursing home staff may mix up doses or administer the wrong drug altogether. They may skip administering a dose in some cases, leaving the patient without adequate medication. Elderly people are particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of prescription medication.
Abuse is another common cause of nursing home death. For instance, the resident may be deprived of food or water, beaten, locked away, or otherwise harmed. The worst offenders are physical abusers, who may beat or sexually assault their victims.
Some nursing homes expose residents to dangerous conditions. For example, they may let their patients live in unsanitary environments, with little or no access to clean drinking water. They may leave their patients outdoors, exposed to harsh temperatures in extreme cases. This puts them at risk of contracting illnesses, dehydration, and frostbite.
7. Food Poisoning
Nursing home residents sometimes get sick from the food they eat. This can happen because of poor sanitation or improper cooking practices. Residents may also ingest spoiled foods that were improperly stored. Either way, these illnesses can be fatal. Food poisoning may cause diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. Over time, it can lead to kidney failure or septicemia (blood infection).
Malnutrition is another cause of wrongful deaths in nursing homes. Many times, the caretakers of the residents don’t properly or timely feed them, causing malnutrition which leads to severe physical and mental health problems or even death.
Suicide is a significant concern for nursing home residents. Many older people suffer from chronic conditions and other life-limiting ailments. They may feel hopeless, anxious, or depressed about their prospects for the future. As a result, they may attempt suicide. Nursing homes should always take steps to ensure the safety of their residents. If they fail to do so, they may be held liable for any injuries or deaths due to their negligence.
10. Emotional Well-being
People in nursing homes not only want someone to take care of them physically but emotionally as well. The staff of nursing homes is required to lend them an ear whenever they feel like talking. Help them do interactive things with other residents to cope with the thoughts of being lonely or depressed. Suppose the emotional well-being of residents is not taken care of promptly, and healthcare providers ignore or neglect their emotional needs. In that case, there is a high chance they might get a psychological issue or even die due to getting too much depressed.
It’s never easy to accept that your loved one has died due to neglect or abuse in a nursing home. You may blame yourself for not doing enough to protect them. However, you shouldn’t blame yourself for this tragedy. This was a preventable occurrence caused by the facility’s failure to provide proper care. This is why you need to speak with a lawyer, who can review the facts of your case and determine whether or not you have grounds for a lawsuit.