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john65pennington's avatar

Is now the proper time to file a lawsuit?

Asked by john65pennington (29057 points ) February 6th, 2011

My mother is 93, deaf and has been in a nursing home for about six months. She is a cripple and confined 24/7 to her bed. She weighed 115 pounds upon entry into this nursing home and now weighes 70 pounds. She is skin and bones. She also has a gruesome bedsore on her lower spine, for lack of proper care in the nursing home. I have photographs and they are heartbreaking. Wife and I are considering a lawsuit against this nursing home for neglect. I have kept perfect records of dates and times and incidents, concerning her neglect. Question: is the time right now to contact an attorney? My state and the Federal Government is also investigating this nursing home, based on my complaint. If you have had a similar situation, I would appreciate any information.

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14 Answers

woodcutter's avatar

Get a lawyer’s input. They usually are clever about timing things to get maximum damages. After all it’s their paycheck too.

gorillapaws's avatar

Not being a lawyer, I can’t give you legal advice. We’ve been going through some challenges with my grandmother in a nursing home. I just wonder if their lawyers might not make the case that she’s a 93-year-old woman, and that they tend to have lots of medical problems at that age. I know we had to buy a special mattress that would inflate/deflate various parts of her mattress to prevent bedsores, and we have a full-time attendant for her as well.

What I’m getting at is that it’s hard to say how much of her medical problems are due to her getting old versus negligent care. I would think in court this may be a somewhat tricky case to argue, but again, I’m not a lawyer. I think you’ve done the right thing by getting the appropriate oversight authorities involved. I wish you and your family the best, and hope your mother recovers.

bkcunningham's avatar

@john65pennington you were/are in law enforcement so I’m preaching to the choir here, but I’ll ask you anyway. If there has been a crime committed, you won’t need an attorney unless you are seeking some other sort of verdict, right?

BarnacleBill's avatar

Is she on Medicaid? Have you been in contact with the county office that oversees eldercare? Do you have a social worker? I know with my mother, there is a lot that we are required to do for her, and the social worker has been a godsend.

I would be really concerned about the the bed sores – it means that they are not moving her enough, and if she’s lost that much weight, then they are not feeding her, and she cannot feed herself. Can you move her to a different facility?

lynfromnm's avatar

I would contact the federal and state agencies that are investigating the facility to see if they need additional evidence that your mother’s circumstances provide. Then contact an attorney who has a track record in nursing home neglect in your state. Neglect can be defined differently in different states. Put together your time logs, and as accurately as possible describe your mother’s condition on each visit you’ve made. These will help your attorney determine whether a lawsuit would be successful in your case.

The state and federal investigations are probably not going to result in any financial gain for the plaintiffs—their purpose in probably to improve the standards and conditions of the facility and the rectify any violations in whatever manner seems appropriate (changes in policy, punishing or reprimanding staff, better training for staff, management change).

funkdaddy's avatar

Why is she still there?

If you think she’s being abused, put her somewhere else… as soon as possible. Worry about your vengeance (or whatever you’re looking for) later.

More likely, she’s 93, and between being unable to hear and unable to move herself around probably doesn’t get a lot of interaction and no exercise. The body and mind weren’t made for isolation and suing these people won’t make her life any better.

chyna's avatar

More than likely they are putting her tray in her room and leaving it there, not bothering to feed her. I have had this experience lately with my mom. She was in the hospital and the first 2 days that we weren’t spending 24 hours with her, they were putting her tray in her room and not getting her up or putting her dentures in for her to eat. I would walk in and she would just be laying there with her tray on top of her. The first thing you need to do is get to the nursing home during food times and help her eat. Yes, it’s a lot of time and effort on your part, but it has to be done if you want your mom to eat. You have to be there to make sure she is turned so she isn’t getting bed sores. Filing a lawsuit isn’t going to help your mom be comfortable in her last days. It won’t change how the nursing home operates. They all pretty much operate in the same manner. You have to be proactive in your moms care. No one else is going to do it for you.

john65pennington's avatar

I failed to state that since the investigations began, this nursing home has been cited with 23 violations at a fine of $5,200 a day and a threat of their medicaid and medicare insurance terminated. also, the majority of the nursing staff has been terminated. the people at this nursing home are aware of my complaints. the nursing staff there now is from an agency.

We have attempted to move her, but there is no vacancy within a 20 mile area.

chyna's avatar

Then you should move her, not worry about lawsuits.

john65pennington's avatar

There is a lot more involved in this situation. the hole in her back is 2cm by 2cm and 2.5 cms deep. this is a stage 4 ulcer and will more than likely never be healed. we are concerned about sepsis and her being infected and dieing from it. this ulcer took a long time forming and a long time of neglect.

alamo's avatar

My heart breaks for you, sir.
Maybe you can hire a private sitter. Do you know anyone that might be interested in sitting with her as much as you can afford? I know that it’s not possible to sit by her side 24–7 but another person in the room would keep that staff on thier toes.

john65pennington's avatar

Thanks Alamo. my mother is deaf. i made a promise to her that i would be her voice and defender in her later years. i feel like i have failed, since this has happened to her. this nursing home, i just discovered, has a bad reputation for neglect of the elderly there. it has been so bad, that they had to change the name of it. they have had many neglect lawsuits in the past. this is one reason i am about to contact an attorney.

alamo's avatar

What you just wrote made me think of my mom and what i might feel or do in the same situation.
If we were standing in front of each other, I would remind you that we are all human. We all make mistakes and sometimes fall short. I would then ask what are you going to do for her tomorrow. Failure is not in the fail itself but in how you react.

cazzie's avatar

That is sad. Just horrible. Absolutely lodge complaints with County, State Health licensing boards (how ever these institutions gain their ability to be run). I don’t know much about these things, I live in a different country now, but I have had family confined to care facilities (thankfully a nice one), but also a few members of my family who worked in them too. (gained insight on how they were run and there was ONE that my sister quit because of how poorly it was managed but it has since changed hands and is better now.)

Any lawsuit you file now will most likely have no outcome before your mother passes and it won’t improve your mother’s current care.

Look further than 20 miles. Try to remove your mother from the facility and find a better place. I think improving her care would be worth an extra 20–30 minutes travel time. There are good facilities. My father was in a lovely situation before he passed and he received excellent care. There wasn’t a place when he first needed something, so he was put in a less than desirable situation to begin with, but we got him into a new place as quickly as we could. He was much happier and so were we, even though it was an extra 30 minutes away.

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