General Question

trailsillustrated's avatar

Can we sue the hospital here? (please read details)

Asked by trailsillustrated (16789points) July 2nd, 2010

My dad is 86— he was in a specialty hospital recovering from a fall, infection. He was there for 36 days. He claimed he had met a ‘nurse’, that he felt he has a special connection with. We found out recently that its a nurse’s aid, and that he has been sending her money. He also told us that she would ‘spend the night in his room’, and that this was observed by other members of the hospital staff. Isn’t there something wrong here? She is 28 years old. His wife is in her late 90’s and they both still live at home. We fear this nurse aid is financially exploiting him. Couldn’t we sue the hospital or something?

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39 Answers

marinelife's avatar

You can certainly report the nurses aid, especially if she has been observed spending the night, which is got to be against hospital rules.

You could look into getting a restraining order forbidding her from contacting him. You might have to request conservatorship of his estate to stop it.

cazzie's avatar

You should report the nurse’s aid. The acceptance of cash gifts by elderly patients highly irregular, to say the least. I would think this is certainly against hospital policy. The evenings spent in his room…. strange. She seems to be working an angle. I wonder how many elderly patients she’s accepting money from?

josie's avatar

You can sue anybody. The question is, can you provide evidence of wrong doing.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@josie my sister has bank records and credit card statements detailing all the cash and the gifts. wouldn’t accepting them be wrong doing?

cazzie's avatar

I don’t know how liable the hospital is here, if you’re looking to score big, I wouldn’t hold my breath, but the Aide should lose her job and be made to pay the money back. Is it a whole lot?

Accepting the money in this situation is surely wrong. I’m sure hospitals have clear guidelines on these types of things.

People being treated in a hospital setting are highly vulnerable, especially the elderly. This kind of thing should NOT be happening. If the hospital knew of the cash being accepted and didn’t do anything, you MIGHT have a leg to stand on.

josie's avatar

If you have evidence that your dad is not “of sound mind” you can argue wrong doing on the part of the nurse/hospital. If your dad is “of sound mind” and simply engaging in some sort of fantasy that involves giving a young woman money, your argument gets a lot weaker. The nurse would get fired, but you probably would not see your money. Not worth the expense unless you are wealthy. If the nurse was exchanging sex for money, we know what that is, but you won’t get your money back. Again, the nurse will get in trouble. But if you make enough noise publicly, you might get a settlement….

trailsillustrated's avatar

@cazzie wer’e not looking to score at all. we want his assets to be used for his and his wife’s care. we are just thinking that surely this person was’nt being supervised correctly or at all.

cazzie's avatar

@trailsillustrated You’d be best going after the girl first…. if that doesn’t work out, go the hospital for it.

‘Admin informs CNA that accepting any money (amount unknown), even though former patient has expired, is a felony.’

That is regarding caring for elderly in a nursing home, but I can’t see why it would be different in his situation.

sleepdoc's avatar

I would start by approaching the facility administration with the information you have. Once you have let them know about it, I would ask what they will be doing about it and when that would be finished. If you can’t get what you consider to be an appropriate answer then I would contact an attorney.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Why sue the hospital? Do you really want to fix the problem or are you trying to take advantage of this situation.
Go the hospital administrator now. With the records in hand and explain. Ask what they are going to do about it. Ask again. Say you want a meeting with the aide and the administrator to resolve this.

If you ware trying to score, say nothing and see an attorney.

@sleepdoc beat me to it.

shilolo's avatar

A nurses aid spending the night in an elderly patient’s room is not unusual (it is not against the rules, as has been suggested above). It is called having a sitter. Essentially, elderly confused or demented patients often get much worse at night, experiencing a so-called sundowning effect. Even during the day, hospitalized patients are often confused, and pull out IVs, catheters, bandages, etc., or try to get out of bed by themselves and fall. Thus, a sitter helps reorient patients and prevent self-induced injuries.

As to the money, THAT does seem wrong, and most likely the root cause is that your dad thinks that he is “in love” or that he can “help” this younger woman. I agree with the posters above that you should approach the hospital administration with this evidence. If your father is indeed somewhat confused, then she has clearly taken advantage of him. The hospital will need to take action, and may want to work out an arrangement with you that avoids the need for a legal confrontation.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree, tell the hospital that you are concerned, demonstrate she is taking money, and at minimum, at least, the hospital should hop to it in getting one of their best people to care for your father. Someone who has been with the hospital a long time and is trusted. That is the one good thing about when people fuck up, typically when it is realized, people will go overboard the other direction to make up for the mistake.

cazzie's avatar

I guess the nurses aide isn’t that strange staying in the room, if his confusion is such that he’s waking up at night and shouting or disoriented etc… as @shilolo mentioned, they have sitters. That didn’t occur to me.

I just had a really sad thought. Please don’t take this the wrong way.

But I think this might point out something to you and the family. Perhaps he’s not as well as you think, and perhaps he needs a bit more care and attention from family members. If a nurses aid can turn his mind to this sort of appreciation from 36 days (or less, I’m guessing she had days off) perhaps he might benefit greatly from having more visits and help from his family.

Flavio's avatar

Easiest way is to get adult protective services involved. You can also become his power of attorney or conservator.

Nullo's avatar

I don’t see how it’s the hospital’s fault, that you’d be suing them.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Nullo it’s because the hospital has more money than the person who’s actually doing something wrong. In our sue-happy society people tend to ignore going after the people who are actually responsible, in favor of the ones with the deepest pockets.

shilolo's avatar

@gorillapaws @Nullo That isn’t quite true. The hospital has the responsibility to protect the patient, and if there is evidence of a pattern of malfeasance or lack of oversight, then the hospital certainly is culpable. Likewise, you could sue a school for hiring a (known) pedophile teacher (or aid) IF the school didn’t do a thorough background check as they were supposed to.

gorillapaws's avatar

@shilolo you make a good point. Although I didn’t get the sense that there was any indication of “evidence of a pattern of malfeasance or lack of oversight” from @trailsillustrated‘s description.

shilolo's avatar

@gorillapaws Well, I interpreted “He also told us that she would ‘spend the night in his room’, and that this was observed by other members of the hospital staff” (emphasis mine) as evidence of a pattern (and possible lack of oversight), though I also thought a much more reasonable explanation was that this woman was functioning as a sitter, as I explained above. The need for a sitter certainly would be consistent with the patient’s age, conditions (status post a fall and an “infection”) and protracted length of stay (a month). I’m certainly not encouraging a lawsuit, but I have heard of many malpractice suits that incorporated both the physician and the clinic/hospital.

gorillapaws's avatar

@shilolo I also interpreted that as behaving as a sitter. We currently have one for my grandmother who likes to get up in the middle of the night to try to use the bathroom.

cazzie's avatar

oo.. another thought. If this little nurses aid IS doing this to other patients, that might make it look much much worse for the hospital. That’s why I think you should take it to the police first, or to some agency that licenses nurses. Pehaps they could have the power to investigate the woman’s financial records. How many people do you need for a class action suit in the US?

trailsillustrated's avatar

@shilolo she was getting into the bed with him to ‘cuddle’. He told us so. thankyou she has already been reported i guess.

shilolo's avatar

@trailsillustrated I’m very surprised to hear that and quite frankly shocked that that behavior would have been condoned by the rest of the staff. Were there ever any witnesses to THAT behavior? If so, you have a real nit to pick with the nursing staff and hospital administration. However, with all due respect, it might be difficult to prove if his mental status while in the hospital was not 100% intact, because it might be difficult to verify.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@shilolo he told my sister that one nite, as they were in there ‘cuddling’, someone (another staff member) opened the door and looked in, then went away. I guess that my sister has reported it (he is really really mad and is disinheriting us) whatever- I just wanted the aid to get in trouble and I guess now she is. Thanks.

jca's avatar

@gorillapaws : going after the hospital instead of the aide has nothing to do with the hospital having more money. it has to do with the fact that the aide was an employee of the hospital when she had contact with the father. as an employee, she is under the hospital’s rules and regulations, and the laws that govern patient’s rights and treatment. the aide could be the richest woman in the world, and she is still not personally responsible, she is under the hospital as her employer.

perspicacious's avatar

Under what type claim do you want to sue? Your Dad has not suffered damages, has he? If I were you I would contact the hospital about it and if the employee is a licensed one, I would contact the licensing body about her behavior.

If your Dad has been sending her money, you might want to consider his capacity to handle his own money.

There is nothing illegal about giving or accepting a gift, if it was truly a gift without duress or deception.

This is just my personal opinion, not legal advice.

cazzie's avatar

@perspicacious It IS illegal for hospital staff to accept money. It is specifically taught to nurses and nurses aides. One article I wrote described it as a ‘felony’... American speak for ‘really bad?’

perspicacious's avatar

@cazzie Do you have a citation? It may be part of nurse curriculum and not be illegal; there are many things professionals are not allowed to do under their own ethics without actually being illegal. I’m simply not aware of this law.

cazzie's avatar

Sorry… I couldn’t find the ‘felony’ article again… perhaps that was a Canadian citation.

In any case, this woman hasn’t just accepted flowers or a fruit basket. She’s getting CASH from the old chap. That just wreaks of larceny.

trailsillustrated's avatar

thanks, @cazzie – it’s wrong, it’s wrong- she will lose her job and might have her license suspended, but if he wants to give her all his money he just might be able to.

cazzie's avatar

@trailsillustrated power of attorney?

trailsillustrated's avatar

@cazzie my sister is looking into that, however I understand it’s hard to do. Our other sister has taken his wife out of the home, (she’s mentally not very fit) , so I don’t kno what will happen now.

perspicacious's avatar

@cazzie Actually it doesn’t sound like larceny at all (that requires the theft and transport of personal property belonging to another).. Your article didn’t completely load but appears to be about nurse ethics, which I mentioned earlier. A breach of ethics does not make an act illegal.

cazzie's avatar

@perspicacious not larceny… I got the english word wrong. Bedragery.. in norwegian.. like lying or influencing people to get money…. but worse than begging because you’re using either your power or their vulnerability or forged documents. You trick, mislead someone for an advantage. And no.. I realise that ethics and breaking the law are different, but I read somewhere that taking money like this was a felony….and now I can’t find the article again. It was specifically talking about elderly people in a nursing home and those who care for them. But like I said,... it may have been Canadian.

cazzie's avatar

Hang on.. I found a charge. It’s called gross morality and/or moral turpitude.

Ohio State Nursing Law….–10.pdf

The case study specifically mentions the taking of money from patients. But it’s more passing of bad cheques….. gosh… perhaps that doesn’t fit either. THIS has to be investigated. She could be doing this to more than one patient! Geez.

brokensoul's avatar

The CNA or aide in a hospital is not usually a sitter, a person requiring one on one would typically have a sitter, you should be able to ask the hospital was she doing one on one care as ordered by the hospital or not? Vunerable Adult is what he is considered and it is illegal for any caretaker to accept money. If she is a sitter she probably doesn’t hold a license, if she is a CNA she does, she and the hospital can be reported, where I live she would lose her license and would have charges pressed, now as far as the hospital, they did not injure him, can you prove that they were aware of this employee’s illegal activity? Did they conduct a background check to insure the safety of its patients? Those things would probably be hard to prove, but at the least I don’t think you would have any problem having charges pressed against the aide, and hopefully the judge would do some sort of restitution in that she would pay back any money taken from him. And I would say chances are this isn’t the first person she has taken advantage of.

angelique_1's avatar

ive heard of this kind of behavior before. the nurse or sitter taking care of the patient will make the patient feel secure and trusting, and then the nurse will talk the patient into giving them money or anything else that they want. they can get copies of credit card numbers, checking accounts or anything! nurses are sopose to help people, not hurt them. but its a regular person in that uniform, so not everyone is trust worthy. id have her reported to the hospital, her records checked to what other patients shes taken care of and if theyre missing money or personal items. im sorry this has happened to your family. ihope you find justice soon.

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