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Can Nursing Home Abuse Victims File Medical Malpractice Claims?

November 30, 2020

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Yes. When nursing home residents are harmed medically due to negligence, they can file medical malpractice claims. Note that these claims are separate from nursing home abuse and neglect claims, although they often have similar root causes.

In many cases, nursing home residents suffer worsening health or poor outcomes after new diagnoses, treatments, and surgeries due to neglectful staff members. That means nursing home residents who were already either being neglected or were at risk of neglect are also more likely to be victims of medical malpractice.

Who Is at Risk for Medical Malpractice in Nursing Homes?

The care and attention that nursing home residents need can vary widely from person to person. Some residents can live fully independent lives and require only check-ins and basic assistance from staff. Others may live partially independently, but need help with certain routine daily tasks. Some residents have serious health problems that require constant supervision and frequent treatments.

Nursing home residents that require certain medical interventions, including health checkups and prescription drugs, are the most vulnerable to abuse and neglect as well as medical malpractice. In addition to relying on staff members to ensure they’re safe and secure, they also must rely on others to protect their health. But as with any medical treatment, mistakes can happen—and sometimes, they’re due to negligence.

Nursing Home Medical Malpractice Can Occur in Many Ways

When many people think of medical malpractice, they think of surgical errors such as operating on the wrong body part, leaving surgical instruments inside patients’ bodies, or even a slip of the hand. Nursing homes aren’t equipped for surgery, so how does medical malpractice happen in them?

  • Failure to monitor and administer medications—Nursing homes have on-site pharmacies and pharmacists that are responsible for filling prescriptions and administering them to residents. They also need to answer questions concerning medications for residents, their families, and their caregivers. When they make mistakes filling prescriptions, giving directions on taking medications, or fail to check for harmful drug interactions, they may be committing medical malpractice.
  • Failure to diagnose—Many nursing homes have in-house or on-call physicians who see residents on a regular basis. These doctors are typically assigned to check on older residents or residents with health problems. When these physicians are making their rounds, they’re required to deliver the same care and attention to the nursing home residents as they give to their other patients in their private practice. But that doesn’t always happen, and when they fail to make timely diagnoses, patient health suffers.
  • Failure to seek outside treatment when necessary—Nursing homes are often limited in the care they can provide to residents. While staff members may be approved and equipped to treat minor ailments and conditions, they may be unable to handle more serious problems. In those situations, nursing home staff should immediately contact doctors, clinics, and hospitals to arrange for more specialized care. Failure to do so can be considered negligence.
  • Failure to prevent infections—Sometimes nursing home residents need surgery outside of their facilities. For many of those residents, their surgeries and recoveries go well, but their health suffers when they return to their nursing homes, especially when they develop infections. Nursing home staff must be extremely attentive to post-surgery patients to prevent and treat infections, and when they fail to do so, patients can suffer life-threatening complications.
  • Failure to hire or properly train staff—There are big differences in what medical personnel are allowed to do when interacting with patients, including nursing home residents. For example, nurse practitioners may write prescriptions, but registered nurses cannot. Orderlies may measure vital signs, but only under nurses’ supervision. When nursing homes allow unqualified workers to take care of patients, or fail to hire sufficient staff, they can be held liable if injuries occur.

These are just a few examples of medical malpractice in a nursing home. If you suspect your loved one was the victim of abuse or neglect that could also be considered medical malpractice, we want to hear from you. We can collect evidence to determine how the nursing home was negligent and the necessary steps to get your family maximum compensation.

We Help Nursing Home Medical Malpractice Victims and Their Families

Nursing homes can provide much-needed supervision, care, and treatment for the most vulnerable members of our families. But when their employees fail to take their duties seriously, those vulnerable residents can suffer severe and even fatal harm.

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, our Ohio nursing home abuse lawyers hold negligent facilities accountable when innocent residents are harmed. If your loved one suffered due to medical malpractice in their care facility, we want to help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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