Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys

Is this nursing home neglect? What information will the lawyer need? How long do I have to sue? What do I do if my family member died because of nursing home neglect? Are there any special laws in Maine that cover nursing home neglect ? Is nursing home neglect the same thing as nursing malpractice or negligence in nursing?

Under Maine law, “abuse” means “the infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation or cruel punishment with resulting physical harm or pain or mental anguish, sexual abuse or exploitation or the willful deprivation of the essential needs.” (10-144 Chapter 110, Regulations Governing Block Licensing And Functioning Of Skilled Nursing Facilities And Nursing Facilities, Chapter 1).

At Briggs and Wholey, when we meet to talk about your concerns, we will want to know your loved one’s condition before going to the nursing home, who was involved in caring for your family member, what happened at the nursing home, and when the injury occurred.

If the nursing home is privately owned, litigation must be started within 3 years of the date of the nursing home negligence. There is a special Maine law, the Health Security Act, that forbids a lawsuit from being filed until after a secret prescreening litigation panel is conducted by a state official. The panel process cannot be bypassed, but an experienced Maine nursing home negligence lawyer to take the necessary steps to get past the panel and take the case to trial.

Nursing home neglect usually involves negligence and nursing care. Nursing homes are required to have enough registered nurses to care for the patients, who are called “residents”. Nurses in a nursing home are responsible for providing “professional nursing” under Maine law to the same extent that they are responsible for patients in a hospital. In Maine, professional nursing is the “diagnosis and treatment of human responses to actual or potential physical and emotional health problems through such services as case finding, health teaching, health counseling and provision of care supportive to or restorative of life and well-being and execution of the medical regimen as prescribed by a legally authorized licensed professional” such as a physician. (32 M.R.S.A. Sec. 2102(2).)

For more than 20 years it has been Maine law that the registered nurse is responsible to coordinate and oversee services provided by unlicensed healthcare assistive personnel “usually called the “CNA” or “the aide”. However, the licensed professional nurse may only oversee a CNA or aide “consistent with patient safety”. A registered nurse cannot assign a CNA “any task that requires independent, specialized nursing knowledge, skill or judgment.” It is always the registered nurse’s responsibility to identify the needs of the patient, provide directions to the CNA’s, monitor the care to be provided by the CNA’s to make sure that it is actually given, and evaluate the care that is provided by CNA’s. (02-380 Maine State Board of Nursing, Chapter 6, Sec. 2)

You may ask, “How is the nursing home responsible for the negligence of the nursing staff?”

Here is a typical case: You try for months to care for an elderly family member at home, but the decision is made to provide for the safety and security of your loved one by placing her in a nursing home care setting. Like many, she has a sort of brain damage from Alzheimer’s, which makes it hard for her to remember how to care for herself on a day-to-day basis, or even tell you how she’s feeling. Everything seems fine at first, but then you notice when you visit that her clothes are dirty, she has unexplained bruises, and she’s losing weight. You ask the nurses if there is a problem, and wonder was there even an assault. Imagine that no one comes right away when she presses her call light to go the bathroom, and no one comes to help her change her position. Trying to take herself to the bathroom in the middle of the night she falls out of bed and breaks her hip. After painful surgery she is spending most of the day in bed but is not repositioned by the understaffed nurses and nursing assistants. She isn’t positioned by nurses on schedule. The pressure on her fragile skin from being in bed in the same position develops large and excruciatingly painful bedsores that grow deep into her flesh and become infected. In one case that was handled by our office, the family relied on the nurses to make sure there mom’s pain patch was in place, but the nurses didn’t check, and a nursing assistant stole the pain patch medication.

Nursing home negligence caused by understaffing, or poorly trained staff, may cause severe injuries and death to Maine’s most vulnerable population- the nursing home bound elderly.

Some Maine nursing homes are understaffed with underpaid and poorly trained employees. Nursing homes may put profits over people and, as a result, they endanger the lives of their patients.

Common examples of nursing home negligence include:

  • Failure to give medication properly and safely
  • Failure to reposition
  • Bedsores (“Decubitus Ulcers”)
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Choking on food
  • Assaults by other patients or by nursing home employees
  • Using unsafe medical equipment
  • Patient falls
  • An incorrect medical diagnosis or treatment
  • Delayed response to nursing home injury
  • Failure to communicate with family and doctors about changes in condition
  • Providing nursing home patients with substandard care
  • Wrongful death

Neglected, and threatened, nursing home residents may suffer physically and emotionally.  Painful bedsores, broken bones, or even premature death can result from neglectful and outright abusive treatment.

Visible injuries are the type that you will pick up on right away. Examples are broken bones, cuts, scars, and bed sores.

Neglect type injuries include insufficient food, water, and bathing opportunities, failure to change the resident’s underclothes in a timely manner if using the toilet is an issue, failure to supply adequate bathing supplies such as shampoo and soap, failure to properly assist the resident who needs help bathing, eating, walking, and verbal abuse.

Some Mainers are fooled into thinking that a Nursing Home is “safe’ if it has a federal government five-star rating system. However, the number of stars a nursing home is assigned can be misleading. Nursing homes are only as good as the care they deliver to each patient.

Families need to know that that their elderly mother, father, aunt, uncle or dear, older friend is safe and well cared for. When an elderly Mainer is injured in a Nursing Home through neglect, you will benefit from legal help to recover compensation for the injury, for costs and the dignity an elderly loved one deserves. If your loved one has fallen victim to abuse or neglect in a nursing home setting, call Briggs and Wholey. We have assisted clients and obtain successful results from nursing homes that have caused injury to residents through neglectful care.

Maine has special rules and procedures for bringing a claim against a Maine nursing home. Many Maine attorneys are unfamiliar with these important legal requirements.  At Briggs & Wholey we are very familiar with Maine’s special nursing home malpractice rules, and are often referred cases by other attorneys.

If you or someone you love was injured by nursing malpractice in a nursing home, contact Briggs & Wholey. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality legal representation to injured nursing home patients throughout Maine. We have successfully handled the varied types of nursing home cases, recovering significant reimbursement for nursing home negligence clients across the state. At Briggs & Wholey, you are not just another number.  We are devoted to defending your rights, and those of your loved ones, to help you get just compensation for your nursing home injury, and enjoy your later years in life with dignity. For a free consultation, call (888) 596-1099 or contact us online.