It is an unfortunate fact that medical negligence and malpractice does occur in nursing homes. Like assisted living facilities, nursing homes have a legal obligation to assist their residents with everyday activities such as eating, dressing and bathing. Nursing homes have the additional responsibilities of providing complete medical care to residents, and as such can be liable for medical negligence and malpractice.
Medical Negligence and Malpractice in Nursing Homes
Data available on medical negligence and malpractice in nursing homes as well as elder abuse confirm that these are serious issues. "In 2000, studies conducted by the National Center on Elder Abuse of more than 2,000 nursing home residents found that 44% of them had been abused, and 95% of those surveyed reported that they had been neglected or had seen others neglected. Perhaps even more compelling, those same studies found that more than 50% of nursing home staff admitted to mistreating nursing home patients." Another study conducted by a Congressional subcommittee found that "30% of nursing homes in the United States - 5,283 facilities - were cited for almost 9,000 instances of abuse…from January 1999 to January 2001…In 1,601 cases, the abuse violations were serious enough ‘ to cause actual harm to residents or to place the residents in immediate jeopardy of death or serious injury.’" In 2003, there were more than 20,000 complains of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of nursing home residents.
There are various reasons for medical negligence in nursing homes, one of which is the fact that many nursing homes don’t have enough staff. According to the American Association for Justice, 90% of nursing homes in the U.S. have staff levels that are too low to provide adequate care. While the recommended minimum number of hours of direct nursing care per resident per day is 4.55, nursing home residents actually only receive 3.7 hours of care per day. In a 2012 nursing home medical malpractice decision, a jury awarded more than $2.25 million in damages (which was recently upheld by the state’s Superior Court) in a wrongful death case that stemmed from chronic medical negligence at a facility that was chronically understaffed and kept faulty records.