Assisted living facilities are defined as facilities which assist elderly or disabled people with everyday activities such as bathing, eating, and dressing. These facilities are not nursing homes, which assist elderly and disabled persons with all facets of everyday activities in addition to providing comprehensive medical care and a high level of supervision to ensure their well-being. Still, assisted living facilities have legal obligations to the persons under their care and supervision. The obligations are delineated in a contract signed by both parties at the beginning of the relationship between the two. These usually include the following:
- Supervising residents’ health needs, including appointments and medications.
- Helping residents take care of living spaces.
- Helping with daily activities such as dressing, mobility, eating, etc.
- Planning events for residents.
Negligence: Standard or Medical?
There are two types of negligence that can occur in an assisted living facility: standard negligence and medical negligence. Medical negligence would lead to a medical malpractice suit, while standard negligence would lead to a civil suit. In order to determine whether a resident of an assisted living facility has a case for medical malpractice, it must be determined whether they were a victim of medical or standard negligence.
An example of standard negligence would be if a resident slipped and fell on an walkway that was not shoveled. Though the resident may have suffered an injury as a result, the type of negligence here is standard negligence, because he or she did not suffer the injury as a result of medical treatment that did not meet a reasonable standard of care.
An example of medical negligence in an assistant living facility would be if the facility improperly administered a resident’s medication, resulting in an injury. The facility has a contractual obligation to ensure that the resident receives the proper dosage and administration of medication. If this obligation is violated and the resident suffers an injury, it would be considered medically negligent, and the resident could have a potential medical malpractice case.