June 10, 2013

Nursing Home Faces Another Lawsuit After Wandering Death

by Levin & Perconti

One of the axioms that attorneys working on nursing home neglect cases appreciate is that facilities that tolerate negligence once are far more likely to allow poor care to strike again and again. That risk is increased the less the facility is held accountable for the consequences of the inadequate treatment.

In certain ways, providing proper care to seniors in a nursing home costs more than provided substandard care. From ensuring proper staffing level to decent equipment, taking the time to properly train employees, and more, there can be a cost to guaranteeing resident’s safety and well-being. Of course, that is exactly why these facilities are paid money to care for the residents in the first place.

But in an effort to maximize profits, caregivers may skimp on safety protocols, increasing their bottom lines but hurting residents in the process. The only way to prevent this conduct--or to force change after it has occurred--is to hit the facility in the area that they truly watch: financially. That is part of the goals of nursing home neglect lawsuits.

Heart Attack Following Wandering
The Saratogian recently reported on a case which demonstrates these principles. According to the story, the family of a man who died late last year filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home where he lived.

The 85-year old man lived in the facility because he was known to have vulnerabilities which made it dangerous for him to be alone. For one thing, he was prone to wandering, placing himself in difficult (potentially life threatening) situations. That is why he even had a “WanderGuard” anklet attached while living at the facility. The anklet was supposed to signal an alert if the man left a certain area so that caregivers would know of the situation.

Sadly, something went wrong one December day last year, and the man--who was suffering from early-stage dementia--made it outside without caregiver’s notice. Temperatures were low that day, somewhere in the 30s. He was left outside until the early morning. By then he was in critical condition, having suffered a heart attack. He was rushed a hospital where he was pronounced dead not long after.

Nursing Home Lawsuit
Last month the man’s family filed a neglect lawsuit seeking to hold the facility accountable for the lapses in care which led to the tragedy. Some specifics of the case were not discussed--such as whether the WanderGuard was working. But in any event, allowing a resident to leave the facility and suffer fatal injuries while outside is a textbook sign of inadequate care.

In fact, this same facility has two other neglect case pending against it as well. The second case stems from a fall where a resident injured her hip. The third involves a case of mistaken identity, with a family alleging that an 83-year old resident was given an insulin dose that was intended for her roommate. The senior suffered pain and developed severe hyperglycemia before dying about two weeks after receiving the shot.

Obviously even a single lapse in care like this is unacceptable. But repeated instances of hurt residents must be addressed immediately before even more seniors are harmed unnecessarily.

See Other Blog Posts:

Whistleblower Case Against Nursing Home Provider Goes Forward

Looming Problem with Alzheimer’s Care in Nursing Homes?