Nursing Home Negligence and Wrongful Death Claims
Many of us, as we grow old, never really think twice about how lucky we are here in Missouri. Not so long ago our life expectancy barely passed the half century mark, but now many of can expect to live longer and healthier lives and well into our 80’s. Some of this is due, in part, to clean water, better sanitation, the rise of and modification of antibiotics and better diagnostic procedures, medical treatment and education on healthy lifestyles.
We Expect Care Homes To Look After Our Elderly
When we are getting close to our mortality, our relatives start to tire of the demands placed upon them. Some of this is due to physical failings, while others are due to a reduction in mental capacity, both of which take a toll on the ability to handle the hectic living of everyday life as smoothly as possible. So our elderly are packed off to a care home where we think they will be cared for as well as they would be back in their own home. This turning a blind eye has resulted in the number of criminal and civil cases against nursing homes doubling over the past 5 years.
Some of this legal action is related to the fact that many Missouri nursing homes lack sufficient staff and staff training is poor. Thirty percent of all nursing homes have been accused of abusing elderly people, some of which could lead to a wrongful death lawsuit. Neglect of our elderly has been discussed, but not solved, over a number of years. Wrongful death is of particular importance as it is a legal way to label a death that has occurred from a wrongful act or from a negligent act. The death could have been prevented if the individual or business had not behaved negligently.
Causes of Wrongful Death Cases
• Insufficient staffing
• Untrained staff
• Falling over• Unclean conditions
• Neglecting resident’s basic requirements
• Inappropriate medical care• Medication and prescription errors
While these are some of the reasons for a wrongful death claim, insult is added to injury when the profit motive is considered. The for-profit nursing homes are improperly billing Medicare by $1.5 billion. This massive amount of money is not only depriving other areas of health care in the U.S., but it appears to be going straight into the pockets of the for-profit nursing home companies and not back to the elderly for which it is designed.
There are non-profit care homes as well, and even though they cry out for funding from anywhere or anybody who is prepared to give away cash, they are not so likely to misuse funds or inappropriately manage them in quite the same way as for-profit homes. First and foremost, though, the overriding reasons for injury and wrongful death in a nursing home appear to do with inadequately distributing funds within the homes which would help to resolve the reasons for neglect in the first place.
What Nursing Homes Should Focus On
There are various procedures that should be followed by a nursing home when looking after our elders, and these include:
- Being fed appropriate food and liquids. Diet is often not top priority in these establishments
- An appropriate fall prevention strategy
- Provision of sanitary toilet and washing facilities and privacy
If a relative finds that one of their elderly family members has died in a nursing home due to the treatment that the person has received, then it may be possible to file a damages claim for their wrongful death. Many claims against nursing homes fall under Missouri medical malpractice laws and you should therefore contact an injury lawyer to make sure you are aware of the law governing your claim.
Throughout Missouri, the immediate family is allowed to compile a claim for wrongful death. This includes the spouse, any surviving children and parents. A sister or a brother, even though not given an equal footing over other closer relatives, may also in some circumstances be able to file a wrongful death claim as well. It is very hard to take on this task on your own and it is far more likely to be successful if handled by an experienced wrongful death lawyer.
However, once the grieving process is under control, no time should be lost, as in Missouri the statute of limitations for any wrongful death case is three years, which is taken from the date of death of the wrongful death victim. However, be aware that certain actions within nursing homes will be governed by the Missouri 2 years medical malpractice statute of limitations. Once eligibility for compensation has been approved, the plaintiff will have to assess the economic loss of the person now that he or she is no longer alive. In most cases, for an elderly person, it will be additional medical expenses as a result of the neglect caused by the nursing home and funeral expenses. On the non-economic side, which is more difficult to assess, it can include loss of companionship and guidance.
We can only hope in the future that our Federal and State government will come up with solutions that will help to redress the way our elders are treated in the later part of their lives. The corrupt use of funding by nursing homes supplied by the Federal government should come to an end. In our cash strapped economy, there is no room for this type of corruption where the weakest and most vulnerable citizens are knowingly being denied the right to live out the remainder of their lives in comfort and with dignity.
If corruption still remains rife, homes remain squalid and the residents are neglected, then our Missouri news headlines will be reporting every week cases of neglect and wrongful death. Holding negligent nursing homes responsible for their lack of care will help ensure the safety of future residents.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a nursing home, contact a Missouri accident injury lawyer by calling 314-409-7060.