When you receive medical care or send a loved one to a nursing home, you trust that these healthcare professionals will provide high-quality care that adheres to the rigorous standards established by the medical community. While a reasonable standard of care is often provided, there are some unfortunate and tragic times in which medical professionals act negligently or make errors that lead to serious injuries.
If you or someone you love has suffered because of the negligence of a medical professional, please call Troy Law Firm, PLLC today at 304-345-1122 to discuss your medical malpractice or nursing home abuse case for free with our experienced attorney. We help clients from Charleston and Huntington, West Virginia, Ashland, Kentucky, and other areas throughout West Virginia and in Eastern Kentucky.
On this page, we discuss the following topics:
- What is medical malpractice?
- Medical negligence vs. medical malpractice
- What is nursing home abuse?
- Common signs of elder abuse
- What is nursing home neglect?
- Signs of nursing home neglect
- What should I do if I suspect elder abuse or neglect?
- How to choose the right nursing home for your loved one
- Discuss your medical malpractice or nursing home abuse case for free
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional fails to provide care and treatment with a reasonable amount of judgment and expertise. When a doctor, nurse, hospital, nursing home or any other healthcare entity acts negligently, makes a mistake, or generally fails to meet the quality of care established by the medical profession, you may have a medical malpractice claim.
Common examples of medical negligence and malpractice include:
- Surgical errors
- Emergency room errors
- Diagnosis errors
- Treatment errors
- Medication errors
- Anesthesia errors
- Birth injuries
The terms medical malpractice and medical negligence are commonly used interchangeably and are often misunderstood. Medical negligence is an aspect of malpractice, but negligence alone is not grounds for a medical malpractice case; you must prove that the negligence caused you harm.
The harm that you suffered may be in the form of physical injury, financial damages or other non-economic losses. In many cases, the harm suffered by malpractice victims involves multiple types of damages. The financial cost of a serious injury can affect you and your family for years to come. Mounting medical bills, rehabilitative care and time away from work can quickly add up. Non-economic damages include priceless things like your quality of life and future well-being.
Experienced attorney Mark Troy understands the complexities of medical malpractice law and has the skill, resources and tenacity needed to pursue the justice and compensation you deserve. Contact our office today to discuss your med mal case for free.
When you place a family member in a nursing home or assisted care facility, you trust that your loved one’s health and safety will be the facility’s top priorities. Unfortunately, although many nursing home employees work hard to ensure the well-being of those under their care, there are others who mistreat residents, causing physical and emotional suffering.
Nursing home abuse is a common form of medical malpractice. It can occur when a health care professional’s negligence leads to injury, suffering, financial losses or wrongful death. Because the care provided at nursing homes involves nearly every aspect of your loved one’s life, there is a wide range of ways in which abuse can occur, including:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual assault
- Mental cruelty or verbal abuse
- Taking and sharing pictures of residents on social media to ridicule them
- Unlawful restraint or imprisonment
- Purposeful failure to protect residents or ensure a safe environment
- Purposeful withholding of medication, food or water
- Theft or financial exploitation
Unlike other types of medical malpractice, in which the signs may be more blatant (such as the removal of the wrong appendage), most cases of elder abuse are much more subtle and difficult to detect. Whether due to a hygiene issue that gradually worsens over time, or a culture of cruelty in which residents are fearful or unable to speak out, not all signs of abuse are easily identified.
Nursing home abuse and neglect can produce both physical and mental indicators. Psychological signs of abuse can include:
- Changes in attitude, behavior or speech when a specific individual is present
- Loss of appetite
- Reluctance to talk, especially when the reluctance is consistent with particular people, places or events
- Abrupt changes in personality
Physical signs of abuse can include:
- Unexplained cuts, bruises or injuries
- Torn or missing clothing
- Marks on ankles, wrists and others areas of the body from physical restraints
- Sudden changes in medication that make your loved one less capable or responsive
Nursing home abuse can include physical, emotional and financial abuse. Nursing home neglect lacks intent to cause harm, but is still negligent in nature. Nursing home neglect lawsuits often involve negligent actions and behaviors such as:
- Failure to properly care for medical conditions
- Failure to assist in maintaining personal hygiene
- Failure to prevent malnutrition or dehydration
- Failure to provide sanitary living conditions
- Lack of safety bars on beds
- Lack of safety bars in bathrooms and showers or bathtubs
- Lack of security
- Lack of adequate resident monitoring
Common signs of nursing home neglect include:
- Bed sores
- Pressure ulcers
- Rapid weight loss
- Rapid hair loss
- General uncleanliness
- Inability to focus
- Dehydration and malnutrition
If you notice signs of neglect and suspect that your loved one may be suffering abuse at the hands of a caregiver, you can contact:
- Adult Protective Services by phone or at dhhr.wv.gov
- Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
- Local law enforcement (if you believe it is an emergency)
In addition to contacting Adult Protective Services, you can review the ombudsman directory on the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services to obtain contact information for your local ombudsman.
An ombudsman is a public official who is responsible for representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints of a violation of rights or maladministration. Many times, an ombudsman can determine if there is a valid cause for concern.
In the event that the ombudsman finds signs of negligence or you notice blatant examples of neglect or abuse such as bed sores, rapid weight loss or an abrupt change in mood, contact Troy Law Firm, PLLC to discuss your case for free.
You want the best for your loved one. When choosing a nursing home, consider the preferences and unique needs of your family member and evaluate the facility’s ability to meet those requirements. While it is important to weigh reviews and word-of-mouth referrals from friends and relatives, there is no substitute for a personal visit. Visit often and at odd hours: evenings, nights and weekends. Don’t just talk to appointed representatives; walk up and talk to everyone: residents, visitors, family members and staff.
Consider the following elements of your potential nursing home or care facility:
- Ambience: Use all of your senses as soon as you walk in the door. Is the atmosphere warm and welcoming? Does the facility look and smell clean?
- Staff: How do caregivers interact with the residents? Does the staff convey respect and positive attitudes?
- Certification and licensure: Is the facility certified to provide Medicare and/or Medicaid coverage? Medicare offers a very rigid five-star rating system that applies specifically to nursing homes. Five star facilities are quite rare, but anything under a three-star rating could be cause for concern.
- Dining: Look at the menus to gain a sense of nutritional value and variety. What is the policy for special menu or dining requests? Are snacks available?
- Medical considerations: Is there a physician on staff to address a variety of chronic or acute health care needs? How many nurses are on staff and what are their credentials? Are other medical professionals such as optometrists, podiatrists and dentists available? Are therapy programs available and, if so, what types? What is the prescription drug policy? Is there an arrangement with a nearby hospital, and if so, what is it? What are the credentials of the Executive Director?
- Care planning: Are there special programs offered by the facility for issues such as Alzheimer’s? Are there services for terminally ill residents and their families? How are residents and their families encouraged to participate in developing individualized care plans?
- Patient rights: What are the rights and responsibilities of residents? Under what circumstances are restraining devices recommended? Does the facility have a Resident Council, and can you participate?
- Location: Is the facility located in an area that is convenient for frequent visits from friends and family?
- Costs: Are all the services your loved one requires covered in the basic rate? Request a list of services that are not covered by the basic cost, which may include things like specialty foods, barbers and beautician services. Also determine if a financial assistance representative is employed by the facility who may be able to assist you in obtaining VA or other governmental benefits to help cover the cost of care.
A care facility should strive to create a community where residents can feel comfortable, build relationships and see familiar faces, just like they did at home. By proactively planning ahead, you can help to ensure that your loved one receives the highest quality of care and quality of life.
If you believe your loved one is being subjected to neglect or abuse in a nursing home or healthcare facility, or if you have suffered at the hands of a medical professional due to negligence, please call 304-345-1122 to discuss your case for free with our experienced medical malpractice attorney. We welcome clients from Charleston and Huntington, West Virginia, Ashland, Kentucky, and other areas throughout West Virginia and in Eastern Kentucky.