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Jury awards $5.2 million in nursing home neglect case

Nursing home neglect is becoming an epidemic in our nation. One study reported on by the National Center on Elder Abuse found that 95 percent of residents experienced an act of neglect or knew of a fellow patient that had been neglected. Even more shocking, the 2011 New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study found that for every case reported, 24 are not. One recent case emphasizes that facilities should be held accountable for nursing home negligence.

In this particular case, a 76-year-old patient was admitted to an Arkansas nursing and rehabilitation center for a 30-day period in order to recover from a recent stroke. A week into her stay, she started complaining of extreme abdominal pain. An on-staff physician recommended that the patient be taken an emergency room for further evaluation.

However, the doctor's order fell through the cracks. It was initially received by the nursing director. Since it was nearing the end of the director's shift, she forwarded the order to another nursing station in the nursing home via fax. Unfortunately, that machine was installed in a closet and the order wasn't discovered until the next day. The patient died during the night, over eight hours after the doctor examined her and ordered the transfer. Witnesses testified that the patient was screaming in pain throughout the afternoon. 

 

The woman’s daughters filed a lawsuit against the nursing center. Although the jury did not find the nursing home responsible for the patient's death, they did find the facility guilty of nursing home negligence, medical malpractice, and violation of resident's rights. No autopsy was performed so it could not be proven that the facility was guilty of wrongful death. The jury awarded the woman’s estate $5.2 million in compensation for the other charges. 

Source: Arkansas Times, "Faulkner jury awards $5.2 million in nursing home negligence case," Max Brantley, May 17, 2013

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