Nursing Home Negligence Questions and Answers

Here are common nursing home negligence questions people ask us. Every nursing home case is different. If you suspect nursing home abuse or negligence, call us or send us a message by filling out the FREE CASE REVIEW located to the right. There is no cost for an initial consultation, and you will be under no obligation to hire our firm.

We’ve handled over 500 nursing home abuse and negligence cases throughout Ohio. We will answer your questions and provide you guidance on what to do.

Can an Ohio nursing home be sued for injuring or causing the death of a resident?

 

Yes, nursing homes are subject to being sued in the State of Ohio for acts of negligence. Negligence is the failure to follow the appropriate standard of care as established either by the law or through established practice throughout the medical industry. The resident themselves, Power of Attorney, or representative of their estate, if they have passed, can bring an action against a nursing home for any harm that has resulted from negligence on behalf of the nursing home and its employees and/or agents.

Can I file a claim against a nursing home without a lawyer?

Technically the answer to this question is yes if you are filing for an injury to yourself. The answer is no if you are attempting to file on behalf of a loved one over whom you have a Power of Attorney or as a representative of an Estate. The State of Ohio requires that only attorneys represent others concerning claims brought in Ohio Courts.

A claim against a nursing home is a medical malpractice claim. It is a complex area of law requiring several prerequisites to file a lawsuit. One of those items is an Affidavit of Merit. These affidavits must be from experts in the field of medicine who, in their affidavits, state that the nursing home was negligent and that negligence caused harm to the resident of the nursing home. This typically is not something that can be done by a layperson and requires the expertise of lawyers to appropriately handle the case and meet all the technicalities of bringing a claim under Ohio Law.

Are there laws or regulations that apply to nursing homes?

Both state and federal regulations apply to the operation of nursing homes in the State of Ohio. These regulations cover all aspects of an Ohio nursing home’s care and treatment residents are entitled to receive.

These rights extend from the right to appropriate and necessary medical care and the right to have privacy, open their own mail, and handle their financial affairs.

Who can I call if I am unhappy with the treatment of a loved one in a nursing home?

There are several individuals and agencies that you can call. First, if a loved one has been hurt while in a nursing home, you should call an attorney who can represent that individual for the injuries they have sustained. The Ohio Department of Health also has a nursing home hotline number. You can call and report any instances of neglect or abuse you believe have taken place, resulting in the State of Ohio investigating that facility. The facility may or may not be cited for a  violation; however, that agency will not seek to compensate the resident or the resident’s family for any harm that occurred. Their investigation is merely administrative. You may also call the state’s long-term Ombudsman, who will attempt to work through any ongoing problems between a resident and the nursing home.

Does an autopsy need to be performed to have a case investigated?

It is not mandatory to have an autopsy performed to pursue a claim against a nursing home. The majority of wrongful death claims against nursing homes are not situations in which an autopsy has been performed. While an autopsy may be helpful in a situation in which the resident has died while at the nursing home. An independent examination of the resident does not exist because they were never transferred the patient to a hospital. You should not feel that you cannot have the case investigated because you did not choose to have an autopsy performed at the time. Often, the family is involved in the grieving process at the time of death, and whether or not to investigate a claim of neglect or abuse that caused the death does not arise until after the loved one has already been put to rest. The fact that the family was grieving and did not choose to have an autopsy performed is not a barrier to the pursuit of an investigation into the question of whether appropriate care was provided.

My family member fell at a nursing home and was hurt. Do I have a claim?

The answer to this question will depend upon your family member’s medical history and the assessments performed at the nursing home. While all medical experts will agree that not all falls can be prevented, the role of a nursing home is to perform assessments to determine whether or not someone is a fall risk, i.e., have they fallen in the past, are they on medications that affect their balance, do they suffer from an underlying disease which affects balance or their ability to walk.

Having performed those assessments, was your family member a fall risk? If yes, were appropriate interventions put in place; instructions to use a call light; being placed on a toileting program; using physical assistance to help them ambulate to and from the bathroom and/or wheelchair? If they have fallen in the past and are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s and are continuing to attempt to ambulate on their own, has the nursing home put in place such items as pull-tab alarms or pressure alarms to alert the staff as to whether or not your loved one is attempting to ambulate on their own. If there was an alarm in place, was it in proper working order when the fall took place; was the alarm sounding; was the staff attempting to respond to the alarm before the fall? All of these things go into determining whether or not neglect has taken place when a fall occurs.

Needless to say, while all falls cannot be prevented, the failure to appropriately put into place interventions to reduce the likelihood of a fall and/or the likelihood of injury from a fall are acts of negligence which a lawyer can pursue on behalf of your family member.

My family member has bedsore, is that nursing home negligence?

Nursing homes are required to prevent the formation of bedsores to a resident at the facility or the advancement of bedsores which a resident has when they enter the facility.  However, some bedsores are preventable, and some bedsores are unavoidable. Before bedsore can be considered unavoidable under regulations, the nursing home must have put into place all interventions available to them, such as a pressure-relieving mattress; a turning schedule from side to side (if the resident is bed-bound); a pressure-relieving device for chairs (when the resident is sitting); and proper nutrition and hydration plan. If the home has not followed the proper procedures and has failed to implement and/or follow all of the interventions necessary to prevent the formation of bedsore, this would be considered neglect.

My family member is in the hospital, and the doctor told me they are suffering from dehydration. Is this neglect?

Generally, a case in which dehydration results in hospitalization is a sign that neglect may have occurred. There are certain instances, despite best efforts, that a nursing home cannot get a resident to take in enough water to maintain proper hydration status. This, however, is the exception rather than the rule. Typically, most dehydration cases occur in residents who have Alzheimer’s or dementia or who suffer from physical ailments where they can not physically bring a cup of water to their own lips. In these instances, almost every case results from the failure to provide appropriate and adequate nursing care to that individual.

How long do I have to bring a claim against a nursing home for harm to a family member?

The medical malpractice statute in the State of Ohio is one (1) year. That means you have one (1) year from the date you knew or should have known that an injury occurred to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the injured individual. In the case of death, a claim by the beneficiaries for their loss under Ohio’s wrongful death statute will expire two (2) years after the date of death. Accordingly, there are two (2) different dates to be aware of. A claim on behalf of the resident for their injuries, medical bills, and pain and suffering has a one (1) year statute of limitations. A claim on behalf of the beneficiaries in a death case for their loss of society, companionship, and all the other losses associated with losing a loved one has a statute of two (2) years from the date of death.

Based upon the necessity of having expert opinions ready at the time of filing, it is best to seek an attorney’s advice as soon as possible. If you believe your loved one has been injured or died due to abuse or negligence at an Ohio nursing home, contact us by calling 1-888-534-4850 or sending us a website message. We will provide you with a free consultation to discuss your case, answer your questions and provide you with the professional guidance you need.

For more information about nursing home abuse and negligence in Ohio, please visit our nursing home abuse section. Learn how you can obtain a free copy of our book about nursing home abuse or how to request a free report on a specific nursing home in Ohio.
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