As a Cleveland, Ohio nursing home abuse lawyer, I can share with you that elder abuse and neglect is all too common in our State. The root cause of virtually all elder neglect and abuse is understaffing and/or poorly trained staff. The reason for this problem is simple: greed. Large for-profit corporations run many of the long-term care, rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities in the United States. In an effort to maximize profits, these corporations routinely fail to meet elderly patients’ needs. When your loved one suffers personal injury or wrongful death as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, please call us for advice.
Nursing home negligence cases are similar to hospital negligence and medical malpractice cases, but there are some important differences. In all healthcare negligence cases, there are three core elements that have to be proven to prevail in a lawsuit: (1) negligence; (2) proximate cause; and (3) damages. Nursing home negligence is established by proving that one or more providers failed to comply with accepted standards of nursing home care. Examples would include failure to prevent pressure sores (also known as decubitus ulcers), failure to timely seek treatment when a medical emergency arises, failure to undertake appropriate fall precautions in patients who are at high risk for a fall, and medication errors. Obviously, any abuse, such as striking, verbally assaulting, pinching, pushing or otherwise physically or mentally punishing a resident, is far below any standard of human decency.
To prove “proximate cause,” a nursing home abuse lawyer must ask whether the injury or death was preventable with proper care. For example, when a post-surgery patient who is undergoing rehabilitation develops an infection, a negligent delay in diagnosis and treatment can lead to the development of sepsis, septic shock and death. If timely treatment with antibiotics would have prevented the progression of the infection, proximate cause is established.
Finally, your Cleveland, Ohio nursing home abuse lawyer must establish the harms and losses that were caused by the nursing home’s abuse, neglect or negligence. Lawyers refer to harms and losses as “damages.” Some damages are obvious, such as personal injuries sustained from a fall like a fracture or head injury resulting in hemorrhage. All of the medical costs associated with treatment of these injuries are recoverable, as is the pain, suffering and mental anguish endured by the injury victim. Other damages are not as obvious. Using the example of a fall, various medical studies have established that many elderly patients who sustain significant injuries from falling will pass away during the six-month period following the fall. It is important to obtain qualified medical expert testimony to determine whether a resident’s fall was a substantial contributing factor in their subsequent death.
There are also some important differences between nursing home negligence cases and hospital negligence or medical malpractice cases. For example, the State of Ohio has enacted statutes and regulations pertaining to the operation of nursing homes and residential care facilities. These laws dictate time limits for filing a lawsuit arising out of nursing home abuse or neglect, set standards of care for long-term care facilities, and enumerate what damages are recoverable. In every lawsuit against a nursing home, punitive damages are a consideration. Punitive damages are to be awarded by a jury in additional to compensatory damages to punish a nursing home that engages in egregious misconduct. For example, when a nursing home fraudulently misrepresents that it provides specialized care to residents with dementia in a dedicated Alzheimer’s unit, but in reality the unit is frequently understaffed or staffed by the newest and least qualified employees, punitive damages may be recoverable.
If you have questions for a Cleveland, Ohio nursing home abuse lawyer, please give us a call. We are experienced, qualified and caring. Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co., L.P.A. can answer all of your questions.