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Nursing Home Abuse And Negligence – Who Is Responsible?
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Statistics show that approximately 4 million elderly individuals are victimized each year through some form of physical or psychological abuse or neglect. In the majority of cases, this mistreatment is perpetrated in the nursing home setting. This article will discuss how to determine who should be held accountable for nursing home injuries or abuse and how to take third parties into consideration.
Nursing homes generally are obligated by a strict ‘duty of care’ to its residents, because of the broad and important nature of the services that they provide to a resident. Services cover such things as food, shelter, hygiene and medical care. It is the responsibility of nursing home staff members to provide a range of services as broad as dispensing medications to food preparation. They also assist with therapy and other physical activities. As a result, there are a number of settings and activities in which a resident is vulnerable and may suffer injury or abuse. The most common incidents of abusive treatment for which a nursing home can be held responsible often fall into the following categories:
- Negligent training of staff
- Negligent hiring of staff; this includes failing to perform adequate background checks
- Failure to properly monitor staff
- Failure to provide adequate security
-Failure to provide for the daily necessities of living, such as food, heating and water
-Medical negligence; for example, failing to address medical needs or to provide medication
-Failure to protect residents from health and safety hazards
-Imposing unreasonable or dangerous physical restraints
-The intentional abuse by staff members
If it can be proven that the nursing home was negligent and as a result of this negligence the resident sustained injuries or was abused, then the nursing home may be held legally responsible for all resulting damages.
It is easy to assume that the nursing home is always legally responsible in instances where a resident is abused or injured. However, this is not always the case. For example, if a resident is physically injured and suffers a broken bone it could be logically assumed that the nursing home staff either intentionally or negligently caused the injury. But it is possible that there may be other causes too. Perhaps a medical device or equipment malfunctioned and caused the injury. In such a situation, there could be several parties responsible. For example,
- The nursing home staff member may have improperly used the equipment
-An outside contractor may have improperly maintained the equipment
-The medical device may have been improperly manufactured or
-The medical device may have been improperly designed
In such instances, third parties may also bear or share liability for the injury sustained by the resident. This can include situations where medication was improperly dispensed by automated equipment, or where a physical therapy apparatus broke or malfunctioned. In another scenario, it could be where a resident suffers food poisoning. In this instance, the vendor who supplied the food may be legally responsible, or the contractor who was responsible for sanitizing the kitchen could also be held responsible.
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