Nursing Home Malpractice and Nursing Home Abuse

Medical malpractice is the deviation from the acceptable medical standard of care which causes results in some type of harm to the patient. It can and does happen in a health care facility including nursing homes. Nursing home malpractice is any intentional act or negligence committed by a nursing home professional and/or staff member that potential causes physical, economic, or psychological harm to the residents.

Malpractice can occur if the care provided deviates from accepted standards of practice in the community and causes injury or death to the resident. While most facilities attempt to provide competent care, there are instances when the quality of care is not up to standards, and as a result medical malpractice occurs. General neglect is the most common nursing home malpractice and could include:

  • Failure to assist in personal hygiene;
  • Failure to provide appropriate medical care;
  • Failure to provide appropriate food, clothing, and shelter;
  • Failure to prevent or treat malnutrition and dehydration;
  • Failure to prevent falls; and
  • Failure to provide a safe environment.

Any act or failure to act perpetuated by staff member that causes harm to a resident could be considered nursing home malpractice. Signs of or symptoms of these problems can include:

  • Bedsores; 
  • Pressure sores;
  • Infections;
  • Dehydration;
  • Malnutrition;
  • Unexplained ailments;
  • Undetected or misdiagnosed medical conditions;
  • Slip and fall accidents;
  • Medication errors;
  • Inappropriate physical restraint;
  • Untreated pain; and
  • Inadequate staffing, inexperienced or under-trained staff, negligent supervision, and patient isolation.

When the minimum standards governing the nursing home industry not met, the party responsible can be held accountable for any damages caused by the malpractice. Elder abuse in a nursing home is also a malpractice. There are different types of elder abuse: physical abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and health care fraud.

A victim of nursing home malpractice can file a claim for malpractice. The claim must be made within the statute of limitation which varies from state to state. The victim must generally prove four elements in a nursing home negligence claim:

  • (1) a duty of care was owed by the nursing home;
  • (2) the home violated the applicable standard of care;
  • (3) the victim suffered a compensable injury; and
  • (4) the injury was caused in fact and proximately caused by the substandard conduct.

The burden of proving these elements is on the victim. Sometimes nursing home malpractice can also result in the death of the resident. In such cases, the survivors of the deceased resident can file a claim for wrongful death against the nursing home and its staff. To prove a nursing home malpractice case, expert testimony may be need to provide that employees of the nursing home failed to render care and treatment that meets the prevailing standard of care in the industry, and that this breach of the standard of care caused the resident’s injury or death.

If you suspect you are a victim of medical malpractice or nursing home malpractice for any reason, it is recommended that you seek legal advice immediately. If you have any further questions, contact Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP at 888-244-5480.