Medication errors, failing to respond to the medical needs of residents, sexual abuse, and unsanitary conditions that lead to infections are some forms of nursing home abuse that can qualify as medical malpractice. Providing adequate medical care is one of the basic obligations of nursing homes. At times, they fail to do so appropriately and cause injury, making patients eligible to file medical malpractice lawsuits.
Different forms of medication errors commonly occur in nursing homes. They can occur when the nursing home staff is administering medication. The staff can mix one resident’s medicine with another’s or use the wrong administration technique and cause harm. Medication overdose and underdosing can cause severe problems for elderly patients. Prescription drug errors, such as not checking for harmful medication interactions, can also harm residents.
Some medication errors can have adverse effects. At times, medication errors can change a resident’s mental or physical condition slowly. These changes could be permanent if left undetected.
Failing to Respond to Residents’ Medical Needs
When a resident is harmed because his or her medical needs have not been met, the resident could have a medical malpractice case against a nursing home facility or treating medical professional.
Nursing home staff may: delay providing medical care or access to a registered nurse or doctor, fail to monitor a resident appropriately, fail to follow the primary doctor’s instructions entirely or in part, or delay communicating signs of diseases, infections, or other changes in a resident’s condition to a physician. These could lead to injuries or illnesses.
Failing to provide wheelchairs, walkers, or canes to seniors with mobility issues could lead to problems like bedsores. When a nurse does not follow appropriate fall prevention procedures, he or she could make a patient sustain a severe personal injury when he or she falls. The nursing home could face a premises liability lawsuit if a person falls because of hazardous conditions.
Bedsores, dehydration, and malnutrition are some of the signs that could point to patients not getting proper medical care.
Physical and sexual abuse can also be considered medical malpractice. According to an analysis of alleged cases of sexual abuse between 2013 and 2016, over 1,000 nursing homes were cited by the federal government for failing to prevent or mishandling purported cases of rape, sexual abuse, and sexual assault. At least 25% of the assaults were allegedly committed by nurses, aides, and other nursing home staff members.
Sexual abuse is often underreported for various reasons, such as:
- Complaints being ignored due to victims suffering from cognitive conditions
- Workers lacking proper training on identifying sexual abuse
- Facilities prioritizing reputation over patient safety
- Employees actively impeding investigations
Failure to provide adequate hygiene and sanitation standards in nursing homes could lead to dangerous infections, which could be the basis of medical malpractice claims. Some infections are resistant to antibiotics, leaving patients vulnerable to serious complications and even death.
MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), for instance, commonly occurs in healthcare settings like nursing homes. It is resistant to a number of common antibiotics. A 2013 study found that in the 22 nursing home facilities tested in southern California, 20 had residents that had the infection. The study found evidence of residents getting infected in the facilities and not just carrying the infection into the facilities with them.
Malfunctioning medical equipment like unsafe mobility aids, insufficiently trained and untrained staff, dehydration, and malnourishment are other types of nursing home abuse that could be considered medical malpractice.
Many nursing home residents are in a fragile or declining state. As a result, any form of medical malpractice can have severe consequences. Victims and their families can take legal action against nursing homes by filing medical malpractice lawsuits.