Wrongful Death in Nursing Homes
Nursing home residents are among the most vulnerable members of our society. Physical and cognitive disabilities can leave the elderly largely reliant on family members and caregivers for their basic needs. In the worst cases and among the frailest of residents, abuse or neglect can lead to death. Wrongful death in nursing homes resulting from abuse or neglect is a sad reality. It doesn’t have to be, however.
It is important to act quickly if you see any signs that a nursing home resident’s needs are not being met. Signs of nursing home abuse or neglect should never be ignored. Instead, call the nursing home abuse lawyer at Nursing Home Abuse Center to discuss the rights and protections available to nursing home residents and their families.
Who Is at Risk for Wrongful Death in Nursing Homes?
The nature of nursing home care leaves residents vulnerable in many ways. They rely on their caregivers for nutritious meals, adequate shelter and clothing, personal care and hygiene, the administration of medication and more.
Nursing home care is not a perfect system, and instances of abuse and neglect are all too common occurrences. Many residents cannot report abuse. Those who can communicate such behavior may choose not to for fear of the potential repercussions they may face by doing so. After all, their abuser may be responsible for providing their meals, administering their medication or managing their quality of life.
The consequences of allowing abuse or neglect to continue can lead to significant harm or even death. This is why those who encounter nursing home residents have an obligation to report suspected nursing home abuse or neglect as soon as possible.
While all nursing home residents are vulnerable to some degree, those most at risk:
- Exhibit poor health
- Lack of social supports
- Possess physical or mental disabilities
- Are minorities
- Are at the younger age of the elderly spectrum
If you or a loved one is concerned about the health or wellbeing of a nursing home resident, please call 1-866-548-9636.
Preventing Wrongful Death in Nursing Homes
Wrongful death in nursing homes can stem from a variety of types of abuse and neglect. Sometimes abuse or neglect is enough to cause the death, and other times it is a contributor along with other factors. One of the key elements of preventing a wrongful death is being present and recognizing the signs of abuse or neglect.
Get to know these four types of abuse and what signs or symptoms may point to an incident you are obligated to report.
Physical or Sexual Abuse
Victims of physical or sexual abuse in nursing homes are often too afraid of retribution to talk about it. If you see any of these signs of nursing home abuse, report it immediately:
- Frequent or unexplained bruises
- Cuts, lesions, and other open wounds
- Fear and anxiety
- Broken bones
- STDs or genital injuries and infections
- Signs of restraint, such as marks on the wrists or ankles
- Broken eyeglasses or other adaptive equipment
- Refusal of a caregiver to allow you to spend time alone with the resident
- Refusal of a caregiver to allow the resident to contact you by phone or mail
In the most egregious cases of nursing home abuse, where the victim has died, family members and estate representatives are entitled to pursue justice by filing a lawsuit for wrongful death caused by nursing home abuse.
Nursing Home Neglect
We tend to think of neglect as a long-term failure to meet a nursing home resident’s basic needs, but it can also present as a single incident that caused great harm to the resident. For example, a caregiver failing to secure the safety harnesses on a lift properly is a negligent act that could result in serious injury or even death.
Neglect may also include:
- Neglect of basic needs
- Medical neglect
- Dehydration and malnutrition
- Poor hygiene
- New or worsening medical conditions
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Overmedicating, missing scheduled medications, or administering the wrong medication
Nursing home administrators are required by law to maintain standards and keep detailed records. When a resident has suffered nursing home neglect prior to their death, these records can be gathered, analyzed and protected to prove that neglect in court.
Nursing home residents often have a trustee or guardian to handle their financial affairs. This person may be a family member, a close friend or even a lawyer. Financial exploitation can negatively impact the nursing home resident’s ability to fund their care and basic needs.
Watch for these signs of financial exploitation:
- Missing jewelry, cash, artwork, furniture or other assets
- Unexplained or sudden changes in the resident’s financial situation
- Frequent or inexplicable bank account withdrawals
- Changes to life insurance, property titles, wills, or power of attorney
- New names added to the resident’s credit card or bank accounts
- Lack of adequate clothing, medication, food, or medical care
- Unusual purchases of goods or services
Psychological and mental nursing home abuse can be difficult to detect. Watch out for signs of:
- Privacy violations, including leaving doors open during personal hygiene activities
- Interference with visitations or communications
- Withholding food
- Threats of any kind, including those of physical harm and withholding basic needs
- Verbal abuse (bullying, name-calling, aggressive language, etc.)
Wrongful Death in Nursing Homes and Your Rights
If someone you love has died and you believe it is a wrongful death, contact Nursing Home Abuse Center. When a nursing home resident is neglected or abused prior to their death, his or her family can pursue compensation. Compensation through a wrongful death claim may include:
- Medical expenses prior to death
- Funeral expenses
- Cost of burial or cremation
- Pain and suffering before death
- Mental anguish
If you have questions about wrongful death in nursing homes or wish to discuss the specifics of your situation, call 1-866-548-9636. Schedule a free consultation with a nursing home abuse lawyer and learn more about your rights and options.