When a family makes the often difficult decision to place a family member in a nursing home, they are entrusting that facility with one of their most precious commodities: a loved one. Nursing homes are supposed to be places where those requiring care and attention get what they need. Sometimes, though, that doesn’t happen, and the resident’s safety becomes compromised. When that happens, injuries or even death may be the result. In the case of an injury or death, knowledgeable Massachusetts nursing home negligence attorneys are available to help that family navigate the legal system.
A Massachusetts newspaper recently reported on the deaths of two residents of a Westboro nursing home and the legal actions that followed. The first of the two seniors to die at the Westboro facility was 89-year-old Betsy. Betsy had dementia and a history of falling. Betsy’s personal recliner had a chair alarm that would notify staff when she exited the recliner. One day in late July 2015, a certified nursing assistant at the nursing home helped Betsy get into the recliner but forgot to turn on the chair alarm, according to information the CNA provided to authorities. Betsy was discovered an hour later, face down on the floor, according to the Worcester Telegram.
According to the Telegram report, the staff at the nursing home knew Betsy had a head injury but, allegedly, did not notify a doctor or a nurse practitioner about her, even though the woman complained of head pain and had problems keeping food, liquid, or medications down. Two days after the accident, Betsy arrived at the emergency department of a nearby hospital. A radiology scan identified that she had a brain bleed. She died a week later.
The second death occurred a month later. 85-year-old Vincent had a history of dementia and psychosis. Vincent, who had only been at the home for a month, was supposed to be wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet around his ankle that told workers the man’s location. A nurse told state authorities that she cut off the man’s ankle monitor because she thought it was too tight. The staff eventually discontinued the orders stating that Vincent should have an ankle monitor, even though the man’s doctor had not approved such a change in orders, the Telegram reported.
Eventually, a housekeeping employee found Vincent at the bottom of a flight of stairs. At the hospital, doctors diagnosed him with a bruised and lacerated kidney. He died four days later.
The pair of deaths led each family to sue the nursing home in Worcester Superior Court. The families each asserted claims of wrongful death. In Massachusetts, you can be liable for wrongful death in multiple different ways. One way is if you were negligent, and your negligence caused the victim’s death. Another way is if the deceased’s family has proof that the death occurred as a result of your “reckless or wanton act.” There is also a basis for wrongful death based upon something called breach of warranty.
The families’ lawsuits against the nursing home alleged that the facility was negligent in causing the two seniors’ deaths. The complaints alleged that the nursing home’s negligence occurred in two ways: failing to staff its facility sufficiently and failing to train its employees properly. Either of these bases could potentially allow for a jury to rule in favor of the family and issue an award of damages.
If a loved one has been injured while under the care of a nursing home, you should reach out to counsel right away. Experienced Plymouth County nursing home negligence lawyer Michael S. Mehrmann has aggressively represented clients in nursing home negligence cases from across Plymouth County for many years. To find out more about how we can assist you, call (781) 585-3911 or contact us online.
More Blog Posts:
Successfully Pursuing an Out-of-State Entity as Part of Your Massachusetts Premises Liability Case, Plymouth County Injury Lawyer Blog, Dec. 29, 2017
Pursuing Nursing Home Negligence in Massachusetts: Potentially Going Beyond Just Suing the Nursing Home, Plymouth County Injury Lawyer Blog, Dec. 12, 2017
Photo Credit: Marea Howse, [CC0 License], via PublicDomainPictures.net