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Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility

In our society, we may not be able to provide our aging relatives the medical care they require and deserve; often times, we turn to nursing homes and other assisted living facilities to provide proper care and treatment. As the individuals living in these facilities require such levels of care, we hold the operators and health care providers at these facilities to a high standard of care. Unfortunately, these facilities sometimes fail our loved ones due to blatant malpractice and neglect. Nursing home neglect happens all too often, and this type of medical malpractice is unacceptable and punishable by law.

Inadequate care and inattention that falls below acceptable standard of care cannot and must not be tolerated in any situations. We entrust individuals and facilities to care for our loved ones as they age and require more support.

Nursing home or assisted living facility can possibly lead to the followings:

  • Worsening of existing conditions
  • Development of new conditions
  • Decline in overall health
  • In worst cases – wrongful death

The damages that can result to this aging and increasing section of our community are far too great. In most cases, they are all preventable if the caretakers administer care properly.

Snyder and Snyder’s team of experienced medical negligence lawyers have handled numerous cases of nursing home and assisted living facility neglect. We carefully review all of the medical records associated with the individual’s care to determine what happened. With our extensive experience with nursing home neglect cases, we can help your family through this difficult time. Contact us today for a free legal consultation!

How is an assisted living facility different from a nursing home?

Nursing homes provide care and assistance to residents who are unable to perform many activities of daily living. Skilled nurses and nurse’s aides are generally available to provide 24-hour care and assistance for patients. Although many people associate nursing homes with elderly residents, these facilities also provide rehabilitation to individuals who have experienced a significant accident or illness. The services provided by a nursing home include room and board, personal care assistance, medication monitoring and recreational activities.

Assisted living facilities have staff available to help residents who are unable to live independently but who generally do not require around the clock care. Assisted living facilities also provide opportunities for social and recreation among the residents. While nursing homes are usually subject to uniform regulations, laws regulating assisted living facilities can vary greatly state by state.

What are the responsibilities of nursing home or assisted living facility staff and care providers?

The caregivers in a nursing home are responsible for providing care 24 hours a day, and are strongly regulated by both state and federal law. While laws vary from state to state, each facility must have a registered nurse (RN) on staff to serve as the director of nursing. In addition to the director of nursing, facilities also have a number of CNAs (who typically have the most interaction with the residents). They assist residents with their activities of daily living, including toileting, bathing, dressing, eating, and the management of medications. They also assist residents with mobility issues by helping them move into a bed, wheelchair or chair. Staff members are required to be licensed and certified by the state nursing boards.

Most states have some kind of regulation for the licensure and responsibilities of assisted living facilities. In Maryland, for instance, the duties of the staff depend on the level of care for which that facility is licensed (this license should be clearly displayed within the facility itself). Facilities who accept residents with a “low level of care” are required to provide occasional assistance with activities of daily living, assist with medication, and provide occasional access to social and recreational services. Facilities that provide a “moderate level of care” are required to administer necessary medication and treatment, provide substantial support with two or more activities of daily living, and ensure access to necessary health services and interventions. Facilities that provide a “high level of care” must provide comprehensive support as frequently as needed, and can generally provide a greater level of medical intervention and supervision.

What are some examples of medical malpractice that can occur in a nursing home?

Nursing home workers must take reasonable actions to protect the residents from foreseeable injury or harm. When they breach this duty of care, they may be liable for medical malpractice. Examples of nursing home medical malpractice can include:

• Negligence
• Failure to diagnose
• Neglect
• Failure to seek medical care
• Medical mistakes
• Wrongful death

What are examples of abuse or neglect in an assisted living facility?

While responsibilities of assisted living facilities vary, in Maryland, negligence or abuse of a resident can be defined as “physical, sexual, mental, or verbal abuse, or the improper use of physical or chemical restraints or involuntary seclusion.”

It should be noted that abuse does not include “the performance of an accepted medical procedure ordered by a physician or administered by another health care practitioner practicing within the scope of [their] license.”

Who can be liable for nursing home or assisted living facility medical malpractice?

Any member of the nursing home staff may be liable for medical malpractice, including the medical director, nurses and other health care providers. Because nursing homes provide medical services to their residents, the staff members have a duty to protect the residents from foreseeable harm.

Some assisted living facilities are not licensed to provide comprehensive medical care or assistance, though all are required to adhere to a list of resident rights, which includes the right to receive treatment and care that is in compliance with state and federal law. Assisted living facilities cannot market themselves as “assisted living facilities” unless they have obtained a license. If the person operating the facility has not been licensed or has failed to provide an adequate level of care, they may be liable for medical malpractice or civil fines.

I fear that my loved one is being mistreated by nursing home staff. What can I do?

If you are concerned that your loved one is being subjected to abuse, neglect or malpractice, speak with the staff about your concerns. Maintain a journal of your observations. Make notes about any unusual injuries or behaviors, along with the date and time that you observed them. Keep a log about any conversations you have with the staff and any attempts they make to resolve your concerns. If available, contact the facility’s ombudsman to help you address your concerns.

The records that you keep will be especially useful if you contact a nursing home medical malpractice lawyer. The attorney will review the information to determine whether the nursing home violated the standard of care that is common to other nursing facilities. If the nursing home was in violation of the standard of care and failed to prevent foreseeable injury or harm to the resident, the facility may be liable for medical malpractice.

How do I prove that medical malpractice occurred?

In order to prove that medical malpractice occurred in the assisted living facility or nursing home, you must be able to prove three elements. First, the plaintiff must prove that the nursing home owner or employee breached a duty of care they owed to the resident. The plaintiff must also prove that the resident suffered an injury due to the breach and that the staff member’s conduct was the cause of the injury. Since medical malpractice claims are generally difficult to prove, contact a medical malpractice attorney to discuss your concerns. A skilled attorney will know how to conduct a thorough investigation and collect evidence to support your case. The attorney will represent residents throughout the legal proceedings and act as an advocate to protect their rights.