Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog

Earlier this month, a Kentucky judge ordered a nursing home to pay the estate of one of the home’s prior residents $18 million after it was determined that the home was responsible for the wrongful death of the resident. According to one local news report, the woman spent the five years prior to her death in the nursing facility, but towards the end of her life she suffered greatly due to a lack of care.

wheelchair-1576246Evidently, the deceased resident was allegedly forced to remain in soiled briefs for extended periods of time before a nursing home employee attended to her needs and changed her. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim that there was evidence this was the policy of the nursing facility in order to save on the costs of the one-time-use briefs.

It is also alleged that the woman developed severe bed sores, resulting in her nerve endings becoming exposed. Ultimately, she did develop a number of serious infections, including E. coli. She also had developed severe skin rashes and lost the use of her arms and legs while in the facility.

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Earlier this month, the family of an elderly nursing home resident filed suit against the home in which their loved one was staying for the abuses she allegedly suffered while staying at the nursing home. According to one local news report, the lawsuit alleges that the nursing home represented to the woman’s family that they would be able to provide the 86-year-old dementia patient with adequate care, all while knowing that the budgetary constraints of the nursing home at the time made providing such care impossible.

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The plaintiffs named the nursing home, its administration, and some 20 other staff members as individuals in the lawsuit. The claims range in seriousness, but they include sexual abuse, preventable infections, unnecessary hospitalization, and hiked-up medical fees. What makes this lawsuit different from the many others that are filed against nursing homes is that this suit alleges that there was fraud on the part of the nursing home. The woman’s familial representative is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and legal fees.

Punitive Damages in Maryland Nursing Home Cases

There are several different types of damages in Maryland personal injury cases. For example, compensatory damages are awarded to “compensate” the plaintiff for what they missed out on, or the expenses they had to incur, as a result of the defendant’s negligent conduct. Things such as medical expenses fit into this category.

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When a nursing home accepts a patient, they take on certain responsibilities. Indeed, according to the Nursing Home Reform Law that went into effect in 1987, nursing homes are required to provide patients with several rights, many of which may not be known to the general public. Of course, the duties that come to mind first are providing adequate medical care and keeping the resident reasonably safe from abuse. However, nursing homes are required to provide residents additional rights. One recent news article explains a few more of nursing home residents’ rights.

HandsThe Rights of Nursing Home Residents

  • Right to Make Complaints:  Nursing home residents should never feel as though they will be “punished” for making a complaint about the quality of care or about a specific staff member.
  • Right to Dignity and Respect:  Nursing home residents retain their dignity upon admission to a nursing home. This means that staff should respect a resident’s wishes regarding their own schedule, meal plan, and activities.

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Earlier this year in a Maryland nursing home, the family of an 85-year-old woman who died in an nursing home filed suit against the facility that was supposed to be caring for their loved one. According to one local news report, the family claims that their loved one died without any staff member at her side, despite hours of complaints of pain and requests for help from family members.

hospital-437674-mEvidently, the family of the woman was at the nursing home just 30 hours before her death, and they recorded their loved one in agony, moaning and crying for help. Allegedly, despite the woman’s efforts, as well as those of her family members, no nursing home staff member came to attend to or to assist the woman. Eventually, her family left her side, and 30 hours later she died.

The woman’s family filed a case against the nursing home, alleging that the home’s negligence was the cause of the woman’s early death. The woman’s daughter-in-law told reporters that she was pleading with the nursing staff, “Why can’t you help her? Why you gotta get somebody? Why can’t you just help her?”

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Earlier this month in a Washington courthouse, charges were filed against a nursing home based on allegations that the home’s employees failed to prevent the sexual abuse of a resident. According to one local news source, the lawsuit claims that the plaintiff’s sister was sexually abused by another resident, which led to substantial weight loss and ultimately a premature death.

door-720-mEvidently, the plaintiff’s sister was a dementia patient in the nursing home, was bed-bound, and could barely speak. Another male resident engaged in sexual conduct with the woman on numerous occasions, and the nursing home staff allegedly did nothing to prevent it. Nor did they report the abuse to the woman’s family. In fact, one nursing supervisor allegedly told the State investigatory body that the male resident had a right to pleasure that could not be denied, “including sexual satisfaction and intimacy needs.”

Shortly after the abuse began, the woman started to lose weight quickly, and she passed away not long afterward. An investigation by the State of Washington into the nursing home’s practices resulted in a $6,000 fine being issued. The home was also required to rewrite nursing home policies and provide additional training to nurses. The plaintiffs claim that the home should be punished more harshly for the incompetence and negligence of its staff.

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Earlier this month, a New Jersey nursing home located in Paramus settled a lawsuit that was filed by the family of a woman who allegedly choked to death while under the care of the defendant nursing home. According to one local news report, the deceased was an 85-year-old Navy veteran who was eating his breakfast when he choked to death.

market-cafeteria-1-509113-mCourt documents filed by the man’s attorney claim that the resident was left alone during breakfast, despite the known fact that he suffered from a swallowing disorder. In fact, according to the man’s family, the nursing home was under specific instructions to have an employee watch their loved one carefully as he ate.

Two weeks after this incident, another resident choked to death. Apparently, a nursing home employee walked in the man’s room to see him choking. The employee performed the Heimlich maneuver but was too late, and the man passed away. When the state inspector arrived, nursing home management told him that they believed the man had died due to heart failure, even though the patient’s death certificate listed “acute airway obstruction” as the official cause of death.

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Earlier last month, a Birmingham, Alabama man pleaded guilty to the assault of a elderly person and was sentenced to serve 18 months in jail. According to one local news source, the man’s sentence was actually for 10 years in prison, but the judge suspended all but 18 months of the prison term. However, the man will also be on supervised probation for four years after his release.

wheelchair-822347-mThe charges stemmed from allegations that, back in 2012, the man and several other nursing home employees beat the paraplegic resident on the face and head. There was also evidence that the offenders removed the patient’s call button so he could not call for help. The others involved were acquitted of all criminal charges.

Separate and aside from the criminal charges, the patient’s mother filed a civil lawsuit for damages in 2014, naming all parties involved as well as the nursing home facility where the alleged abuse occurred. The lawsuit explains that prior to entering the facility, the patient suffered a major head injury that resulted in several brain surgeries, and, as a result, the patient was “both physically and mentally incapacitated.”

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Late last month, an article by Newsmax Health conducted an investigation into a frightening statistic that the superbug MRSA can be found in roughly 25% of all U.S. nursing homes. According to the report, the largest contributing cause to the transmission of this antibiotic-resistant bug is contaminated gloves.

bacteria-910914-mThe article, working off a study conducted by Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, notes that there is a gap in education among nursing home employees regarding the transmission and seriousness of MRSA.

The study, which took place in Maryland and Michigan nursing homes, showed that in 28% of nursing homes the MRSA bacteria was present at some level. The largest contributors were glove- and gown-contamination, with glove-contamination being more prevalent. The study explains that washing hands and changing gloves between residents is crucial to stop the spread of the deadly disease.

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With the advent of the internet, it has become easier than ever to review our experiences with the various companies and institutions we do business with on a day-to-day basis. In fact, some suggest that the higher prevalence of peer reviews in an industry, the better the overall quality across the industry, since business owners know they will likely be held accountable by their unsatisfied customers. Nursing homes, apparently, are no exception.

window-1099953-mThe federal government has been ranking nursing homes for years. However, despite the availability of the information, many people fail to check nursing-home rankings before checking in, or sending a loved one to stay there. A recent article by Newsweek explains that nursing home rankings may be a fairly accurate way of assessing the level of care provided at a facility.

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Earlier this month in Ilion, New York, the top management and owners of a nursing home facility were criminally charged for their role in an alleged cover-up involving serious instances of alleged patient abuse. According to one local news source, the charges all stem from alleged errors that occurred back in May 2013.

shredding-day-543148-mThe first incident involved a “serious medical error” that went unnoticed and untreated for several days. The second incident involved a resident who suffers from dementia engaging in unlawful sexual contact with another nursing home resident in the home’s cafeteria.

After the Attorney General’s office was notified of the alleged lapses in care, it initiated an investigation into the home. During the investigation, it is alleged that one of the part-owners of the company was eavesdropping on a conversation between investigators and a nursing home employee. It is also alleged that other management-level employees destroyed digital evidence in violation of the law.

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