Nursing Home Medical Malpractice in New Jersey
Nursing Homes & Assisted Living Facilities Malpractice Lawyers for Injured Seniors and their Loved ones throughout New Jersey
Making the difficult decision to place your parent, sibling, child, or spouse in a nursing home entails many considerations. First, you want your loved one to be in a supportive environment that is not only safe and secure, but loving and warm. Second, you look for places with professional medical, social, and psychological care for your vulnerable loved one, especially if that person suffers from dementia or other debilitating conditions that prevent them from defending themselves or speaking up about their living conditions. While the state of New Jersey and the federal government regulate the care in residential caregiving facilities, some nursing homes are poorly run. They may hire nurses and physicians who are too busy, lack the necessary knowledge and education, are inexperienced, or are otherwise incapable of competently handling the nursing home population’s medical needs.
Older adults in nursing homes typically have various medical conditions requiring therapeutic care, primarily medication. Some need round-the-clock care, and seniors are often in nursing homes because their loved ones are unable to attend to their 24-hour needs. Many elderly adults in nursing homes have various physical and mental health challenges that need the constant vigilance of their caretakers. When those needs are not met, nursing home residents can fall gravely ill or even die. When a nursing home fails to provide basic needs, such as proper food, water, safety, clothing, hygiene, and medication, they may be guilty of criminal neglect when residents are injured. However, even if the nursing home is run efficiently, medical malpractice can occur when non-medical staff, overwhelmed nurses and doctors, inattentive or untrained medical professionals are left to tend to the complex and demanding needs of nursing home residents.
Can You Sue for Negligence in a Nursing Home or Long-term Care Facility?
Abuse in Nursing Homes
A nursing home practicing a culture of neglect or abuse may render subpar medical care for its residents, hiring inexperienced or incompetent medical providers who they can exploit and fail to hold accountable. Abuse of the elderly population may include physical, emotional, sexual, psychological, and financial. Residents suffering from these intentional abuses may show signs of depression, anxiety, fear, or withdrawal. Medical professionals who attend to nursing home residents are trained or should be trained to identify signs of abuse in vulnerable populations, such as children and the elderly, and are legally obligated to report signs of abuse to family members, caretakers, and the proper authorities. When medical doctors, psychologists, and nursing personnel fail to identify or report abuse, they may be liable for personal injuries resulting from continued abuse.
Neglect, Insufficient Standards and Procedures among Senior Care Facilities
Not all nursing home patients suffer from intentional abuse, however. Some suffer from neglect due to understaffing. With many nursing homes insufficiently funded and improperly staffed, it is no wonder that COVID outbreaks devastated nursing home populations during the pandemic. When staff attending to the medical needs of residents are not trained or qualified to administer medications or contain infectious outbreaks among the population, the ones who suffer are those vulnerable seniors who end up getting sick and dying.
Failing to provide the necessary equipment and training protocols to contain the spread of infection among workers and residents, and not taking the proper steps to isolate those with symptoms or testing and medically caring for those with symptoms, have all been cited as reasons for the rapid spread of infections and viruses among residents and employees. A combination of administrative and medical staff error, and inadequate preparation on the local, state, or federal level, may have contributed to the tragic events in nursing homes recently. Even before the recent outbreak, infections in nursing homes have long been a problem that plagues these facilities and the elderly adults entrusted in their care.
What is Required when Providing Medical Care to Nursing Home Residents?
Doctors, nurses, and other medically trained professionals must perform their duties as medical providers up to the standards of their profession, no matter the circumstances. They have obligations to their patients not to injure them; to explain diagnosis, treatment, and care to them; and to obtain their consent to treatment. These are basic practices all medical professionals owe their patients, and medical organizations educate and set the standards of medical practice in each field of medicine. For instance, nursing home nurses must communicate patient symptoms to their supervising doctors and use medical equipment proficiently when necessary. Medical providers in this context must likewise:
- Follow prescription doses and methods of drug administration
- Document patient history
- Carefully monitor a sick patient
- Be a patient advocate
- Accurately diagnose and identify the patient’s medical needs
- Develop and initiate the right treatment for the patient’s condition
- Inform patients of their treatment plans and answer questions
- Obtain their consent if the patient can give consent. Otherwise, they must obtain consent from the patient’s authorized representative
- Document patient diagnoses, treatments, and complaints
- Send patients requiring emergency care or advanced medical interventions to the appropriate hospitals and receiving facilities
What is Considered Medical Malpractice in the Nursing Home or Assisted Living Context?
When doctors or nurses fail to practice medicine professionally, which is evaluated against how other professionals treat similar patients, they may commit malpractice and ultimately injure their patients. Moreover, New Jersey’s Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights affords all nursing home residents basic rights of autonomy, to have a say in their care and the decisions affecting their lives, including participation in their own care and treatment by choosing their providers and deciding whether they want treatment in the first place. The Bill also includes the right to have services and accommodations to fit their needs, as they have the right to expect their paid caretakers to meet their basic needs. When nursing home medical personnel do not do what they are legally, medically, and ethically required to do, innocent people may be hurt or even die. In nursing homes and elsewhere, negligence amounting to malpractice must not go unaddressed.
How can Medical Malpractice Occur in Nursing Homes?
If medical treatment is inadequate, nursing home patients may develop infections or blood clots from bruises or failing to take their medications. An infection that isn’t immediately and appropriately treated may worsen into something even more deadly, such as sepsis. Another common infection, staph infection, may lead to pneumonia if allowed to pervade the patient’s body. And residents who are left unbathed or unclean after bathroom accidents may develop infections and illnesses from bacteria or rashes from urine. In addition, some patients are injured by other residents who strike or otherwise harm them.
And if they are given the wrong medication or the wrong dosage, they can suffer severe reactions that may permanently injure them if they survive. Failing to administer a necessary medication can be equally damaging, as is often the case when a person requires regular medicine for seizures or a heart condition. They may also suffer dehydration or malnutrition if they cannot remember when to eat or drink, and further debilitating illness due to undiagnosed or untreated health conditions. Lastly and equally dangerous, a senior at an assisted living facility may suffer wrongful death if nurses and doctors fail to recognize an urgent need for more substantial, involved medical care. Failing to transport an older adult from a nursing home to the hospital could cost the person their life.
A New Jersey Nursing Home Malpractice Attorney can Help
If your loved one suffered at the hands of nursing home nurses, doctors, or other medical professionals who failed to care for them properly, speak to a medical malpractice attorney experienced with handling nursing home malpractice cases. The medical injury attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group have encountered a vast array of negligence cases involving patients young and old, as we seek accountability and just compensation on behalf of those harmed throughout New Jersey. Your loved one has rights by law and needs protection when those rights are violated.
Get in Touch
Discuss your nursing home medical malpractice case and the process for asserting your rights by contacting our office today. (973)-435-4551.Contact us