Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog

Earlier this month, the family of a 57-year-old woman who died after lighting herself aflame filed suit against the nursing facility that was charged with her care. According to one local news article, the lawsuit is against the single largest owner of skilled nursing facilities in the State of California. The owner of the facility controls one in every 14 nursing home beds in California.

samaritan-1246021Evidently, the woman suffered from a history of schizophrenia and suicidal ideations, and she was admitted to the nursing home for constant care. The lawsuit alleges that the nursing facility accepted her into its care, knowing that it did not have the trained staff necessary to provide the high level of care that the woman needed. Specifically, the woman’s family claims that the home was “maximizing profits from the operation of the facility by underfunding, understaffing and under training the staff” with “callous indifference to the potential for injury they were inflicting upon the resident population.”

The family argues that the home provided the woman a “day pass” that allowed her to be on her own for about four hours a day without supervision of any kind. This was despite the fact that, just two weeks earlier, staff members reported the woman was suffering from hallucinations and talking to herself.

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Earlier this month in Brooklyn, New York, prosecutors filed charges against an employee at a nursing home after it was discovered that the employee had abused an 82-year-old dementia patient. According to one local news report, the employee was criminally charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, which is a felony offense. The employee is charged with accompanying misdemeanor charges relating to the incident as well.

hospital-7-1518169Evidently, the woman was seen on video abusing and humiliating the man as she was bathing him. Video evidence allegedly shows her hitting him several times with her own fists, throwing water on his face and chest, and making him hit himself in the face with his hand repeatedly. The New York Attorney General told reporters that he plans on prosecuting the case, and all cases like it, explaining that “When families make the difficult decision to place the care of their loved ones in the hands of a nursing home, they expect them to be treated with compassion and respect—not abused and mistreated.”

Maryland Nursing Home Abuse

While this disturbing account occurred in New York, similar incidents occur here in Maryland on a frequent basis. It is estimated that one in 10 nursing home residents will endure some kind of abuse at some point during their stay. For many people, the abuse involves verbal humiliation and degrading conduct, but for others it involves physical abuse.

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Earlier this year in Minnesota, video cameras installed by the loved ones of a nursing home resident caught several nursing home employees engaging in the abuse of a resident. According to one local news source, the videos resulted in a criminal investigation that ultimately led to the termination of several employees and the suspension of others, including those who allegedly knew about the abuse and failed to report it to authorities.

security-camera-1253661Evidently, the video camera was installed by the family of a resident who spotted bruises and cuts on their loved one. Back in June of this year, the family took the video to the local police department, which conducted an investigation into the allegations and ultimately arrested two of the nursing home’s employees on suspected assault charges. While no charges have yet been filed, the city attorney told reporters that “They did things that I would not want done to relatives of mine if they were in a nursing home, … Inappropriate conduct definitely occurred.”

The nursing home responded with a letter to the family of the woman who was seen abused on the tape, explaining that “this conduct is intolerable and contrary to all we stand for, which is why the employees involved were dismissed.” It remains to be seen if there will be any civil claim for damages filed against the nursing home or its employees.

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Earlier last month, the State of California cited and fined a nursing home facility after it was determined that lapses in care at the facility led to the death of a resident. According to one local news source, the facility was fined $100,000 and issued a Class “AA” Citation, which is the most serious in the State.

childrens-medical-1531645Evidently, last July one of the home’s residents choked on a piece of food while eating in the home’s dining area. The woman ultimately suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away a few days after the incident. After an official investigation, it was determined that the actions of the nursing home in failing to provide adequate supervision played a major role in the woman’s death.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) initiated an official investigation after the woman’s death, and it determined “the facility failed to provide a safe dining experience and failed to implement their care plan to consistently assist and assure that safe eating occurred.” The CDPH also told reporters that the woman had a known history of delusional thought and difficulty swallowing, and she was known to attempt to eat quickly without properly chewing her food.

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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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