What is permanent disability?
Simply put, a permanent disability is any disability that makes a person permanently unable to work or live a normal life. Generally, the person must be unable to continue working at either their current occupation or at any occupation for which they possess the necessary training, education, or experience. For example, if a person who went to medical school to become a surgeon loses both arms, they will probably be unable to continue working as a surgeon – the occupation which they went to school for and which they may even have gained experience in before becoming disabled.
While the exact definition of permanent disability differs between insurance companies, it usually includes the loss of both eyes, arms, or legs, and/or being absent from work for at least six months after an illness or disability, with no hope of returning to work at some point in the future. To be permanent, a disability must remain with the person throughout his or her life.
How is permanent disability caused by nursing home neglect or abuse?
When nursing homes try to cut costs by hiring as few staff members as possible, the quality of the nursing home’s care suffers. This often leads to preventable falls and infections which can ultimately end in permanent disability. Falls in nursing homes may occur because staff members are overworked or already busy when a nursing home resident calls for help. Staff members may fail to clean up a spill, replace a lightbulb, or remove objects from a hallway – usually because they are too busy to notice these safety hazards, or don’t have time to take care of them. Likewise, nursing homes may try to save money or time by failing to train employees correctly, making them unprepared to properly care for residents. If a resident develops a severe infection or illness due to nursing home neglect, the effect may be permanent disability.
What should a nursing home do to prevent permanent disability?
Nursing homes should seek to provide residents with the highest level of care possible. This includes hiring enough staff to care for each resident’s specific needs, and screening all employees before hiring to prevent abuse as much as possible. Nursing homes should regularly check their facilities for hazardous conditions – like poor lighting, obstructed walkways, and slippery floors – and quickly eliminate as many of these hazards as possible.
Nursing homes should also develop individual care plans for each resident and closely monitor both residents and caregivers to guard against illness, infection, and abuse. Wherever possible, nursing homes should take preventative measures against illnesses and injuries that could cause permanent disability. For example, bed sores can be prevented by helping residents change position often, and a urinary tract infection can often be prevented by limiting the use of catheters.
Can the nursing home be held responsible for permanent disability?
In nursing homes, permanent disability is often the result of something preventable – like a fall or an untreated infection. Since this is the case, there’s a good chance the nursing home will be held responsible for permanent disability. This means Georgia law requires the nursing home to pay damages to the victim of permanent disability. Damages might include the cost of any medical bills related to the incident, money for lost wages and lost earning potential (if appropriate), and financial compensation for the resident’s pain and suffering. By law, nursing homes have a duty to provide their residents with a certain level of care, and when a resident suffers permanent disability as result of a nursing home’s neglect or abuse, this duty is breached: making the nursing home legally responsible for the outcome.