With the population of adults aged 65+ on the rise, elder abuse is an issue that often goes unaddressed and unexplored. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reports that study and knowledge of elder abuse lag far behind other abuse scenarios like domestic violence or child abuse. With mitigating circumstances like dementia, disability, existing health factors, and the issues surrounding overcrowded and unregulated nursing homes, some estimates claim that 55% of adults ages 65+ experience some form of elder abuse, whether it be physical, psychological, etc.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical Malpractice denotes the failure to provide an appropriate level of medical care, which was required in a professional capacity. The purported breach of conduct led to harm to the patient in the form of personal or psychological injury, damage, or death. The premise is that if the medical professional had followed guidelines and procedures for standards of care, the injury would not have happened and/or that the severity of the case could have been mitigated.
How Do You Prove Medical Malpractice?
A medical expert usually testifies about the standard practices, as well as policies and procedures related to the patient’s care and condition. If the case involves a failure to diagnose a disease or condition, the medical expert may review the results of tests or testify about the tests that should have been run to successfully diagnose and treat the patient. A jury decides whether you’ve proved medical malpractice by establishing that a pattern of negligence and breach of the standard of care has occurred.
What is the Duty of Care?
To prove medical malpractice at a nursing home, you must first demonstrate that the facility had a duty of care obligation to the patient. In many cases, that duty of care can be established based on the contractual requirements, but sub-contracts and other non-contractual relationships can complicate liability considerations when there are freelancers at the facility. The duty of care is the legal responsibility to provide a high level of patient support and treatment. That care is at a level that should be reasonably be expected, based on medical practice, education, and skill.
What is Breach of a Standard of Care?
In a medical malpractice case, you may prove the breach of a standard of care by demonstrating that the patient did not receive the appropriate level of care or treatment. A breach may involve the lack of appropriate feeding or care considerations like administering medication or moving the patient in the bed to avoid bed sores. Environmental conditions could contribute to a breach of care or duty claim if the unhealthy or unsanitary conditions contributed to an avoidable illness or infection.
What is Causation?
While the condition of the patient may be relatively easy to establish, based on medical experts and healthcare records, you must also prove a direct link between the breach of a standard of care and medical malpractice. Particularly in cases that involve purported nursing home negligence, you would need to prove that the injuries or conditions were not foregone conclusions based on previous health concerns.
What is Damages?
Beyond just proving causality, you must also prove that the negligence resulted in some form of harm in the form of an economic or non-economic loss. Those damages can often include the cost of treatment or extraneous medical bills that directly correlated to the negligence and breach of duty. It could also directly link to emotional anguish, suffer, or extreme pain that resulted from the negligent lack of care and treatment.
What’s the Next Step?
Elder abuse is chronic and ongoing, but part of the reason that more cases do not come out is that it’s difficult to prove the direct causation and damages. The breach of a standard of care is not enough for the courts to act, which is why you should seek legal assistance and advice. A personal injury lawyer can consult with you to determine whether you have a case and what you need to do to move forward. He or she can also discuss the circumstances of the elder abuse and negligence and help you determine what steps you can take to protect your loved one from emotional anguish and suffering.
Call to schedule your consultation with a personal injury lawyer today. Not only will you learn more about the process of how to address nursing home negligence, but you may also gain peace of mind as you understand what legal ramifications can do to protect your loved one(s). So, the simple answer is that you enlist the help of a personal injury lawyer to prove that the negligence of a nursing home resulted in the injury, damages, or death of your loved one(s).