More and more often, family members are no longer able to provide the at-home care to elderly loved ones. As such, a growing number of seniors are being placed in nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the country. Many nursing homes are not able to keep up with the demand with an adequate number of well-trained staff. Over-worked orderlies, nurses, and staff, obligated to care for a growing number of residents with fewer sources, are more prone to neglect residents. Nursing home neglect can result in all types of injuries, including wrongful death.
Wrongful Death from Falls is a Serious Problem at Nursing Homes
Wrongful death can often occur due to injuries sustained in a bad fall. In fact, the attorneys at Schenk Smith have experience handling cases involving resident death due to falls at nursing homes. Residents of long-term care facilities, and all advanced seniors in general, are statistically more prone to falls. The reason? Many in our elder population suffer from incapacity, mobility problems, and deficits of hand-eye coordination. Still, falls are not just the result of a resident walking without aid or assistance from the nursing home staff. Other types of falls resulting in death are quite common. For example, transitioning to and from bathroom facilities, like the toilet or the bath. Our elderly are more likely to suffer grave injuries and death from falls than the young. This makes falls one of the most serious safety issues to be handled by nursing home and assisted living facility staff.
Nursing Homes May be Liable for Wrongful Death
Under the laws of Georgia, nursing homes and assisted living facilities may be liable for injuries resulting from falls. The law mandates that appropriate steps be taken to reduce the risk of falls. These steps begin with a fall-risk assessment. Based on that resident’s specific risk, nursing homes must then take certain actions. For example, ensuring that the rooms of high fall-risk residents are within proximity to the nurse’s station, or providing residents with a fall-risk bracelet and a door magnet or flag to alert the staff. When facilities do not implement these precautions, they can be held responsible for the damages caused.
Staff sometimes fail to properly assess the extent of injuries after a fall. For example, failing to link diminished capacity, lethargy, or inability to communicate after a fall with serious head trauma can have serious consequences, and even result in a wrongful death claim. In a recent case, our client exhibited obvious signs of a head trauma. Still, the nursing home did not take the resident to the hospital in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, due to the delayed reaction, the client passed away. In short, even though the resident fell, the conduct of the nursing home after the fact contributed directly to the ultimate death. When a nursing home does not properly recognize and assess the extent of an injury, they can be held liable for the resulting loss of life.
Abusive Conduct By Nursing Home Staff May Cause Wrongful Death
Wrongful death can also be a result of abusive or intentionally wrongful conduct by nursing home staff. In order to complete all tasks during a shift, nursing home staff may get inappropriately physical with residents. Excessive physical restraints, improper holds, inappropriately administering sedatives, and isolation can lead to grave injury and even death. Whether out of frustration, punishment, or to deter the uncooperative behavior, there is absolutely no excuse for such action. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as well as the guilty staff, may be held liable for injuries resulting from physical abuse and neglect.