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Nursing home resident dies of hypothermia outside of facility

The decision to send a loved one to a nursing home is never an easy one to make. Families agonize over the options: living alone, in-home care, living with a family member or moving into an assisted living facility or nursing home. These decisions may be made easier when families feel that their loved one will be cared for and receive the best treatment at a facility.

It is this trust that makes stories of nursing home neglect so difficult to hear. In New York, an 85-year-old man was recently found dead outside of a nursing home where he resided. Authorities are looking into the matter and investigating the man's death. Hypothermia was declared the preliminary cause of death.

According to the county Board of Supervisors, the resident had a window in his room and climbed through this window. The family of the man finds that version of the story hard to understand. The man's son-in-law claims that the man lived in a second floor room and that the window in his room opened no farther than half a foot. He says that his father-in-law was found near a door and that his walker was outside with him. Also, the son-in-law alleges that the man did not have injuries that would suggest he fell from his room.

If the investigation into the incident confirms that the nursing home negligently caused the death of the resident, the family may be able to bring legal action against the facility. Negligence may be found if the facility did not adhere to the accepted standard of care. Not only should nursing homes recognize the basic premise of human decency, they should understand that they must maintain a certain standard of care when it comes to patients and residents.

Source: My Fox NY, "NY nursing home resident found dead outside," Dec. 23, 2012

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