Articles Posted in Nursing Home Error

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Medical malpractice lawsuits can be sought for many different reasons. Some of them involve birth injury, and some, like the present case involve the care of the elderly. Elderly care homes in New York are governed by many laws, the application of these laws can differ depending on the court system. When a party to a case feels that the rights of one of the parties has been violated, or the laws in the case have been misapplied, it becomes the job of the Supreme Court to evaluate the outcome and decide if the case needs to be reviewed.

In February of 2009, an elderly woman from Queens was living as a long term patient of a nursing home in Rochester, New York. One of the issues that placed her in the care of the home involved a bladder problem. This woman was unable to void her bladder without the assistance of a catheter. Therefore, every day, she had to wait on one of the staff of the home to come and help her to urinate. One night, the staff member failed to come to the aid of the woman. She was desperate for relief and decided that she would exit her bed by herself and attempt to go to the bathroom. When she stood up from her bed, her bladder released causing a puddle on the floor of her room near her bed. She slipped in the puddle and suffered from severe injuries including broken bones. She was not treated for her injuries until her son in law arrived several days later. Her son in law is a doctor. When she told him about the injury and that she was in horrible pain from it, he had her transported by ambulance to the hospital. It was only at that time, that the extent of her injuries were revealed. Her family was distraught that their mother had not received the minimum standard of care that was expected. They filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in her behalf. They used as a standard for their contentions that the public health laws had been violated a case that involved another patient of a long term care nursing facility.

This woman was a young woman who was in a persistent vegetative state. The case is referred to as Doe. The reason that her mother filed a lawsuit alleging violations of the public health laws was that her daughter had been injured in an automobile accident. She was in a persistent vegetative state when it became apparent that she was pregnant. Since she had been a resident of a long term home for more than a year at that point, it was obvious that she had been raped while in their care. She delivered a baby boy by caesarian section. DNA evidence was used to determine which employee of the facility had raped her. Her mother’s contention was that her daughter did not receive the minimum standard of care for a patient in her condition as evidenced by the fact that one of the staff had raped and impregnated her. She proved her point and won her lawsuit. The case is now used as a precedent for nursing home violations. The public health law was instituted to prevent the types of abuses that were evidenced in the current case and the case of Doe. In order to insure that our loved ones who by necessity are bedridden and in a long term home facility, laws that govern insufficient care are important. Nursing homes in Staten Island must be accountable for any abuse or neglect that may occur on their property. However, because the laws are so complicated as they relate to nursing home abuse, it is important for anyone who believes that their loved one has been treated inappropriately to contact an attorney.
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When a family places a loved one in an elderly care home, they have certain expectations regarding the care that the loved one will receive while they are living there. It is not reasonable to expect that the loved one will be abused while in the care of trained professionals. However, all too often, a family discovers that their trust was misplaced and that their loved one has suffered from an injury, abuse, or even death as a result of medical malpractice or nursing home abuse.

On October 31, 2003, one such loved one died in the care of New York Presbyterian Hospital. She was only 67 years old. She had been a patient at Isabella Geriatric Center, Inc. from the summer of 2000 until October 24, 2003 when she was transported to the hospital suffering from contusions, pain and discomfort, dehydration, soreness in her neck, and stage IV sacral decubitus ulcers. These injuries were inflicted according to her family members as a direct result of the employees of the geriatric center’s neglect and abuse under Public Health Law §§2801-d and 2803-c. The family contends that the geriatric center failed to properly hire, train, and retain qualified employees and that they failed to properly supervise those that they did hire to ensure that reasonable care was given to their loved one.

When they filed their complaint with the courts of New York, they were taken before a judge who read over the complaint. The family had requested permission to present a medical expert to testify on their behalf to show that the geriatric center had failed to provide the minimal standard of care to their loved one and that this diversion from standard medical practice was the proximate cause of the injuries that she suffered and ultimately the cause of her death. The judge who heard the motion denied the family’s request to present a qualified expert. She then stated that without an expert that they would not be able to show a prima facie case of neglect. She then proceeded to dismiss the case in its entirety.

The family objected and filed an appeal of the case which was taken before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court expressed a desire to not rule against the original trial court’s decision, while at the same time determining that the case should not have been dismissed in its entirety. The medical malpractice suit could have been dismissed based on the decision of the original justice, however, the judge should not have dismissed the neglect case. If the circumstances were such that the medical malpractice case precluded the testimony of an expert, then the judge was within her authority to deny the family the right to have that expert testify in court. However, there is no requirement that an expert is necessary to prove a prima facie case as it relates to the neglect contention. That being said, the negligence contention should have been allowed to go forward. It is separate and distinct from the order to show just cause in the medical malpractice case where the judge would not allow the testimony of the expert witness.

The Supreme Court reviewed the case in its entirety and determined that it was not reasonable to dismiss the case of neglect along with the medical malpractice case. They determined that there was enough question of fact that should go before a jury to determine if a case of neglect was possible. The evidence of the injuries that the Westchester woman sustained while in the care of the geriatric home was certainly sufficient on its surface to entitle the family to have a hearing of the facts to determine if a jury felt that neglect was involved.
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A long-term care facility, more commonly referred to as a nursing home, is where many of those whose needs require more constant care than what a short-term care facility like a hospital can provide. They are also, where many of the long-term and terminally ill spend their remaining time before they die. These facilities are supposed to treat those persons whose care they have been entrusted with the utmost dignity and respect. Unfortunately, there are many cases that these facilities are anything other than trustworthy. A doctor has learned of one such facility that may fit into this category.

Equip for Equality, which is a watchdog group with the support of the federal government, recently conducted an investigation into a nursing facility for disabled children and young adults in Chicago, IL. The facility is facing closure as a result of an investigative journalism story by the Chicago Tribune that detailed death and neglect within the walls of the nursing facility.

Among the allegations that Equip for Equality is making toward the nursing facility is of destroying medication error documents, patients not being treated properly, doctors ignoring pages and lab reports, and internal investigations were sketchy at best.

One such incident is the case of the death of a 14-year old girl who breathed with a ventilator. According to Equip for Equality’s report, the girl died of pneumonia due to the lack of care and neglect of the doctors and the facility. Her lab results indicated that she had a “heavy growth” of Pseudomonas aeruginosa–a bacterium. A week later, the girl was diagnosed as having pneumonia after having a chest x-ray. The doctor prescribed antibiotics that, as the report claims, that particular strand of pneumonia are resistant.

When she was hospitalized a short time later, Pseudomonas was found again. This time she was given an antibiotic that worked. The problem is that she was soon returned to the nursing facility that would soon run-out of that type of antibiotic. She went for two days without receiving antibiotics. Although she would receive another series of the proper antibiotics, she continued to be overcome with Pseudomonas. The doctor was notified, but he ignored the notifications for two days. Three days after the doctor gave an order to resume antibiotics, the girl died.

A spokesman who also reps hospitals in Nassau and Suffolk for the nursing facility stated that the girl died of natural causes and that they did everything for her that they could.
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Some new legislation is trying to remove some of the rights that victims of medical malpractice have. This includes people who are injured due to the negligence of nursing homes explains a doctor.

Florida has recently adjusted the way that expert witnesses can be called to assist in various lawsuits. For an out of state expert to be considered as an expert they must first obtain a certificate from the health department. The requirements for the experts are also much tougher remarked the reporter.

Some of the provisions in the bill can be applied directly to malpractice cases including abuse cases in nursing homes. Nursing home residents require both physical assistance and medical care. Most of these facilities employ a number of trained nurses who are capable of administering the same types of treatments that the people could receive in hospital. Because of this it’s possible for the same sorts of mistakes and negligence to affect patients being treated in nursing homes rather than being admitted to hospital.

It can be difficult for elderly people to receive compensation for medical malpractice because their earning potential is much less than someone who is younger. For this reason many pensioners struggle to find legal representation for their case. However, these people deserve justice just as much as anyone else.

One type of error which is very common in nursing homes are mistakes with medication. This is because almost every resident will require a regular dosage of different medications. There are reports that many nursing home residents have been injured or even killed due to mistakes over prescription drugs. Some drugs may be administered to the wrong patient, or there might be other mistakes over the correct dosage. A nursing home should be somewhere that elderly people are well cared for, it should not be somewhere they are neglected and injured due to incompetence. Just because the treatment is not carried out in a hospital in places like The Bronx and Brooklyn it doesn’t mean that malpractice shouldn’t be treated in the same way.
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A bill that would require a coroner to be called to all nursing home deaths so they can be investigated in the event of foul play or other issues is stalling in the state’s General Assembly, states a report.

The bill, which would require all nursing homes in the state to contact the local coroner’s office when a nursing home patient dies, is designed to ensure that any abuse or neglect occurred, it could be investigated. However, opponents of the bill cite the costs that such measures would incur.

The state’s chief medical examiner states that if the bill is passed, in order for the local coroner offices to comply three more doctors, and an undisclosed number of additional support staff would be needed. There would also be a need for additional equipment for the required investigations, reports a doctor.

Most assembly members and the medical community support the bill. The questions that are raised concern where the funds to pay the support staff and to purchase the needed extra equipment, along with any additional staff the nursing home facilities might need will come from, explains a source.

The bill not only would require nursing homes Manhattan and Long Island to report any deaths at their facilities, but also a specific staff would need to be designated at the long-term care facilities and all death would have to be reported to the local county coroner’s office within 24 hours.
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