Over 1.3 million individuals in the country live in either a nursing home or an assisted living facility.  North Carolina has nearly eight hundred assisted living facilities and over four hundred nursing homes.  The main differences between the two types of housing communities concern the services each provides and their physical layout.

Nursing homes typically look after those whose physical and/or mental conditions leave them unable to care for themselves.  They, thus, provide full-time care and supervision.  Some patients are admitted for a short time to recover from an illness or for rehabilitation from an injury or surgery.  Some are admitted for hospice or end-of-life care.  Some stay longer.  Accommodations and rooms resemble hospitals.

Assisted living facilities are typically long-term retirement communities where residents have their own apartment or living area.  Many offer some kind of care, but residents can usually look out for themselves.

This is part 2 of a series.  Part 1 offered an in-depth analysis of bedsores, including stages, treatment, and complications.  This part will deal with nursing home law and litigation regarding bedsore injuries.

Bedsore Development

Most bedsore litigation and law focuses on nursing home injuries to seniors, but bedsores can also happen to residents in assisted living facilities or in any kind of institution that offers care to any kind of resident, not just seniors.  While this blog will use the terms “nursing home” and “residents,” such refers to any type of facility that provides care to anyone whose condition leaves them susceptible to bedsores

Bedsores are preventable.  If a resident develops one or more, it means the nursing home is not:

  • routinely repositioning the resident as required.
  • keeping the resident’s skin dry (from urine, sweat, or other bodily fluids).
  • keeping the resident properly nourished and/or hydrated.

Other issues that may contribute to bedsore injuries:

  • insufficient staff to patient ratios
  • failure to confirm employee credentials and ensue job qualifications.
  • Inadequate employee supervision
  • Insufficient monitoring of employee performance
  • Failure to terminate employees who consistently perform below standards.

 

Medical Malpractice or Ordinary Negligence?

Because bedsore injuries involve specialized medical care, actions often involve medical practice claims.  To pursue a medical malpractice claim, an injured individual (or their family in a wrongful death case) must assert:

  1. the appropriate standard of care (the proper approach or practice for a medical condition).
  2. that the nursing home violated or failed to provide the standard of care.
  3. That the breach or violation proximately or primarily caused the resident’s injuries
  4. damages (the total financial claim, including compensatory and punitive amounts).

Medical Malpractice actions also require Rule 9(j) or a qualified professional certification.  They also include a non-economic cap, separate hearing if damages exceed a certain amount, and other restrictions.

Injured parties or their families may instead pursue a negligence claim against the nursing home.  To claim negligence, an injured party (or their family in a wrongful death action) must assert:

  1. that the nursing home owed a duty of care to the resident.
  2. that the nursing home violated the duty of care.
  3. that the violation directly caused the resident’s injuries.
  4. that the nursing home’s activity (or inactivity) directly caused the resident’s injuries.

Contributory negligence applies.  So, if the nursing home can show that the resident is in any way responsible for their bedsores, they will not be able to receive any compensation.

Bedsore law litigation is complicated and confusing.  If someone about whom you care is a nursing home resident who developed bedsores and/or suffered bedsore complications, Thomas D. Bumgardner can help. He knows the applicable laws and can help you determine your best course of action.  He passionately pursues those who abuse and neglect the elderly. Contact him at 704-887-4981 email him at info@ballantynelegal.com to learn more about the legal services he provides and to book an appointment.