How to Prove a Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Nursing home neglect falls under the legal classification of a medical malpractice claim. These are difficult cases to prove because the patient is the one who holds the key to many unanswered questions. Many patients in nursing facilities have mental or physical conditions that prevent them from being able to speak affirmatively regarding their care. A legal team relies on family and friends to help bring the offenders to justice.
In any nursing home abuse or neglect case, it’s a must to be able to prove that an injury has a direct link to the negligence of the caregivers. This is where things can get tricky. All claims must be verified and backed up with solid proof. Pursuing a nursing home facility for abuse or negligence requires substantiation. An expert testimony alone is usually not enough to win a case.
A medical malpractice case that involves a nursing home facility goes beyond someone making a small mistake. There must be substantial evidence that someone in the facility was negligent or abusive, and the action caused an injury. Unfortunately, many nursing homes get away with neglectful ways because the injury is not severe, and it does not meet criteria for a legal battle. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff. In addition to the presence of an injury, the following things must be gathered to file a legal case:
- Proof of Negligence
- Witnesses and Other Documentation to Backup Claim
- List of Names and Additional Information
- Medical Reports
Understanding Nursing Home Neglect
Filing a nursing home lawsuit is serious. Just because an injury occurs does not mean that it’s ground for a lawsuit. It is quite common in many nursing homes to falter in their services here and there. However, it does not always cause harm or danger to the patient. Sometimes injuries occur because the facility does not have enough staff to assist or supervise all patients. Not to mention that working in a nursing home facility is very demanding and stressful because of long working hours, unpredictable shifts, and poor working conditions. Finding good staff is often hard. Nonetheless, these facilities are required to do background checks and pull criminal histories on each applicant to ensure that the hired employees are mentally and emotionally fit for the job. But even despite rigorous screening, some people only work to collect a paycheck. As many people work in nursing home facilities, any one of them can be the defendant in a case. Here are a few individuals that may be identified in a lawsuit:
- Nursing Assistants
- Physical Therapists
- Activity Coordinators
- Patient Administrators
- The Nursing Home
- Medical Equipment Providers
- Third Parties
Understanding the nature of nursing home abuse is critical especially if you are considering to admit a loved one in an assisted living home. It is common for patients to get bedsores from lying for extended periods of time. However, if the facility fails to address the patient’s condition, the situation can quickly escalate into something more serious. Bedsores can be extremely painful and produce a putrid smell, and therefore, should not be ignored. If bedsores have become an issue, the patient must be given proper medication and care. The condition must also be documented in the patient’s charts. When the sores do not get any better and have not been treated, it is a clear sign of neglect. The pain and mental anguish caused by these painful lesions can be grounds for compensation.
Walking is often difficult for elderly or those who have had surgery. Some patients come to these facilities after a knee surgery to recuperate. Others may have arthritis that prevents them from walking long distances. Still, the nursing facility is required to have these patients up and walking each day at the pace that’s appropriate for their condition. Otherwise, they will lose their ability to walk if they do not use these muscles.
Filing a Nursing Home Lawsuit
Seeking the help of an experienced lawyer can make it easier for anyone to file and deal with a nursing home lawsuit. An attorney and his/her assistant or team can do all of the legwork including interviewing witnesses and gathering further information relevant to the case. There usually are many people questioned to make a lawsuit stronger, such as family friends, relatives, nursing home caregivers, other patients in the nursing, etc.
Family members often experience mental anguish when they place their loved one in the hands of a facility who fails them. Nursing home abuse happens every day across this country.
Here are a few steps to take if you suspect that your loved one is not receiving proper treatment or being neglected:
- Gather all of your loved one’s medical records
- Ask your loved one’s a few questions on how she or he is treated in the facility, and take note of the details.
- If there’s the presence of injury (e.g. cuts, bruises, etc.), make sure to take a picture of the wound, contusions, or whatnot. Ask your loved one’s caregiver how the patient sustained the injury.
- Request for medical screening to get concrete information about the injury from an expert.
- Consider moving your loved one to another facility as soon as possible.
- Inform the proper authorities (Police and District Attorney).
- Contact the Department of Social Services and Adult Protective Services.
- Call an attorney to get advice on your loved one’s rights and in filing a lawsuit if necessary.
Proving nursing home damages can take a lot of work. Although you may already be aware of your loved one’s fundamental rights, you’ll need proper direction on who to be held accountable and how to proceed with collecting damages. Look for a lawyer who has years-long of experience in handling medical malpractice and nursing home abuse or neglect cases. You want to make sure that the nursing home will become more diligent in their duties and responsibilities, at the same give your loved one the justice and compensation she or he deserves for experiencing a potentially traumatizing treatment.