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Wrongful Death at Nursing Homes

The decision to put a loved one in a nursing home is a difficult one to make. Often, however, it’s the only way to ensure that elderly relatives get the medical care and daily support they need to live the rest of their years in peace and comfort. Yet, sometimes, those twilight years end all too abruptly because of the actions or inaction of nursing home staff.

If your loved one died while in a nursing home, and you believe nursing home negligence contributed to their death, you might be entitled to compensation for your emotional suffering, funeral costs, and associated expenses. Contact the personal injury attorneys at Wapner Newman to request a free case consultation: 1-800-LAW-6600.

How Wrongful Death Occurs

Negligence in nursing home care can cause just as much harm to residents as outright physical abuse. When a nursing home is short-staffed, workers may be more likely to make serious mistakes at work, and the staff might not have the resources to adequately monitor residents.

The types of mistakes that can be extremely harmful or fatal to residents include:

  • Prescribing an incorrect dosage of medication
  • Allowing a cognitively impaired resident to wander outside of the premises
  • Failure to monitor and adequately treat a medical condition
  • Failure to provide residents with proper nutrition and hydration
  • Failure to protect residents from violent visitors.

The non-profit investigative news organization Pro Publica has published on its website a detailed account of nursing home deficiencies and fines that have occurred in the previous three years. The information – which comes from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – shows how neglect can lead to nursing home fatalities:

  • The Manor at Susquehanna Village, in Mechanicsburg, Pa., received a fine for failing to ensure the safety of air mattresses used in conjunction with side rails; that failure caused one resident’s death, due to entrapment between the mattress and side rail.
  • Inspectors fined Forbes Center for Rehab and Healthcare, in Pittsburgh, Pa., for failing to complete physician-ordered neurological assessments, resulting in the death of one resident due to a brain hemorrhage.
  • Crawford County Care Center, in Saegertown, Pa., was cited for failing to notify a physician of a change in a resident’s condition, which resulted in that resident’s death.
  • Hempfield Manor, of Greensburg, Pa., was cited for failing to ensure the safety of air mattresses used in conjunction with side rails; unsafe conditions caused a resident to fall from the bed, suffer a hip fracture, and die two days later due to physiological stress and cardiopulmonary failure.

These reports show that failing to follow procedure can have dire consequences. But staffers may not be fully to blame for fatal procedural missteps. Nursing home companies may share liability if they don’t adequately train staff or if they fail to monitor staff’s interactions with patients.

Nursing Home Abuse

An investigation by CNN found that, between 2013 and 2016, the federal government cited more than 1,000 nursing homes for cases of rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse that were either mishandled or could have been prevented.

Physical, sexual, or psychological abuse can all lead to premature death of nursing home residents. The damage from physical and sexual abuse can be severe enough to cause blood loss, fractures, and other injuries that can raise the risk of deadly infection. Psychological abuse may not be an immediate cause of death, but it can cause a resident to stop eating, refuse medication, and experience a rapid decline in health that could be fatal.

Help for Families

When a loved one dies in a nursing home, families may have difficulty getting answers regarding the cause of death. Sometimes, the truth doesn’t emerge until federal officials inspect the nursing home and find, through interviews and evidence, that the home was negligent in a way that either directly caused or contributed to the death.

Wapner Newman excels at finding justice for families whose loved ones died due to negligence. Our Philadelphia and New Jersey nursing home wrongful death attorneys work on a contingency basis, so families don’t have to pay up-front for representation. If you need help, schedule your free case consultation online or by calling us at 1-800-LAW-6600.