Traditional nursing homes--known as “skilled nursing facilities”--are able to provide a degree of actual medical care at the facility itself. Of course, caregivers provide support--like making meals, washing clothes, help with grooming, and more. But they can also provide more sophisticated treatments. However, there is a limit to the scope of care available in these locations. When a serious medical emergency strikes, it is critical that the seniors in the facility be taken to an actual hospital to receive in-depth treatment or emergency services.
Sadly, there are circumstances when caregivers at a nursing home do not act in a timely fashion to ensure their residents receive the hospital aid they need. That seems to be what happened in a matter which led to a trial that ended last week.
Nursing Home Neglect Jury Decision
As discussed in an Arkansas Times story, the victim in the case was a 76 year old nursing home resident who lived at the defendant-facility in April of 2008. She was only at the home for a pair of weeks. The senior suffered a stroke and was expected to stay for a month-long stint during her recovery. But about halfway through that stay the woman awoke in the night with very severe abdominal pain. She had no bowel movements and was sweating profusely.
A doctor was called the next day to visit her, and after his examination he issued an order that the senior to be taken to a local emergency room. Because the resident had a history of abdominal abscess (as well as the recent stroke), proper care required that she received more advanced medical care than could be provided in the nursing home itself.
Even though the director of nursing received the transfer order from the doctor at 3:34pm that afternoon--she did not take immediate action. Instead, because she was leaving the facility for the day, she faxed a copy of the order to another part of the facility. Sadly, no one went to the location where it was faxed, and the order was ignored.
According to the story, the suffering senior was simply left to sit in her room--even though she was in so much pain that she was screaming constantly. She was making so much noise that other residents complained. A few hours later, around 10:20pm that night, the senior was found in her room--she had died.
A lawsuit was filed by the senior’s family. The case went to trial recently, and the jury issued a unanimous verdict in the plaintiff’s favor after hearing all of the details of the case. They awarded the family $5.2 million after finding the home guilty of negligence, medical malpractice, and basic violations of the rights of residents. It remains unclear if the family will receive the full award, as various arguments were made about the parent company’s immunity from the misconduct of the individual home.
This horrific case of a senior suffering for hours before dying because of an obvious error is an example to why we must continue to fight for the rights of nursing home neglect victims. No one should ever have to go through this agony as a result of basic caregiving lapses.
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