Negligence and a Nursing Home’s Duty to Its Patients
When families help to select and place a loved one in a nursing home, they do so with the expectation that the health care workers will competently and attentively perform their duties when providing care to patients. Sadly, instances of nursing home abuse and negligence are common themes in the news, and while families cannot absolutely prevent an injury from happening, it is important to remain a constant advocate for the for the nursing home resident so administration and staff know this person has people who care. Calling and visiting the resident on a regular basis, plus talking to the staff providing regular care, can be crucial to monitoring the health of the family member and adequacy of the medical and palliative care offered. A family in Jacksonville is dealing with the nightmarish scenario most try to avoid contemplating. An elderly family member was a resident at a facility in the area who died after suffering a fall; and unfortunately, there was a subsequent three hour delay before the family was notified and medical treatment offered at a nearby hospital. The family is suing the nursing home for the death, and alleges the facility later deleted a video that recorded the activities of the nurse and nursing assistant attending to the deceased at the time of the fall. This story stands as a reminder of the unavoidable vulnerability of nursing home residents, and the need to hold facilities accountable when they fail to give the required amount of care.
Standard of Care
A standard of care is a legal mechanism to discern how reasonable, prudent people would act in a particular set of circumstances. Failure to meet this standard is considered negligence and could open the person who failed to maintain it to liability for another’s death or injury.
In the nursing home context, Florida law says the administration, contract employees and staff members all owe residents a duty to exercise reasonable care. Reasonable care is the prudent care such people would use in under similar circumstances. Nurses, because they are so integral to patient care, are held to a higher standard and are required to use care on par with the “prevailing professional standard of care for a nurse.” This professional standard is based on the level of skill, care and treatment a reasonable and prudent nurse in a similar field would use in a given situation.
Standard of Care in Lawsuit
If a family elects to sue a nursing home for negligence by arguing it did not live up to its duty of care, it must demonstrate the following in court:
- the nursing home owed a duty to the resident;
- the nursing home breached that duty;
- that breach is the legal cause for the injury or death suffered by the resident; and
- the resident was injured or died due to the breach.
While the particular actions a nursing home should take will vary according the circumstances, this duty of care never goes away as long as a person is a resident at the facility. Consequently, family members should always question if something about a resident’s condition seems off so that nursing homes are held to the standards required by the law.
Speak to an Lawyer
If have a loved one who was injured or died while living in a nursing home, you may have grounds to hold the facility accountable for what happened. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado handles cases of nursing home abuse and negligence. Don’t let your loved one’s suffering go unanswered. Contact an lawyer to Pita Weber & Del Prado to find out your legal options.