Causes of Unreported Wrongful Death in Nursing Homes
Poor care in nursing homes is responsible for many injuries and premature deaths. Unfortunately, many of these injuries and deaths are never reported because physicians naturally believe the age of the patient or ongoing medical conditions contributed to their death. In addition, facilities may attempt to purposely cover up anything that could be determined negligence. There are several reasons why wrongful death may not be discovered when someone dies in a nursing home.
Medical Malpractice Anxiety
One of the main reasons that an elderly patient’s wrongful death may not be reported is that nursing homes are concerned about civil lawsuits that could result should the patient’s family discover that something that occurred in the home led to the person’s death. Malnourishment, dehydration and infection are common in the elderly, but these can also be signs of neglect or care that is improper. However, many nursing homes do not investigate such incidents and often work to cover up these issues to avoid a lawsuit by the patient’s family.
Careless or Inattentive Doctors
Because most elderly patients, especially those who have been placed in assisted living, suffer from a wide range of physical and emotional problems, doctors often attribute a death to one of those conditions rather than investigating whether the patient received proper care in the nursing home. Although doctors genuinely care about their patients, they are human, too, and could hastily declare a cause of death without taking the time to determine what the actual cause may have been, whether out of laziness, carelessness or simply being too busy to take the time to investigate. A physician who determines a cause of death too quickly should be held accountable since they are the patient’s first defense against neglect or mistreatment.
Determining If You Have a Wrongful Death Case
There are ways to determine if you may have a wrongful death case in the death of a loved one who was in a nursing home. Some of these include:
- Medication errors – it is not uncommon for nursing homes to provide patients with the wrong medications, or the correct medications in the wrong doses. In addition, doctors sometimes prescribe new drugs without realizing that they interact poorly with medications the patient is already taking.
- Malnourishment – elderly patients often have little or no appetite, which can lead to weight loss. However, sudden, unexplained weight loss in a patient who has previously been healthy and eaten well could indicate mistreatment.
- Dehydration – sudden or unexplained weight loss, dry skin and lethargy may be a sign of dehydration. In addition, dehydration can lead to serious complications and even death if it is not treated properly.
- Bed sores – bed sores are not uncommon among nursing home patients, especially those who are bedridden. They are preventable and, if they should occur, must be treated in the early stages. If they are not treated, they can lead to infection, illness and death.
Seeking Legal Assistance in Wrongful Death Cases
If you have a loved one who has died while in a nursing home and you suspect their death was preventable, contact Lundy Law at 1-800-LundLaw to learn whether you may be eligible for a wrongful death claim. Because wrongful death in a nursing home often goes unnoticed, you need a law firm who will ask the right questions and get answers as quickly as possible. At Lundy Law, we understand how difficult it is to lose a loved one and we are here to help you get justice for them should their death have been due to negligence or other wrongdoing on the part of a doctor or nursing home.