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What Nursing Homes Always Say When They Injure A Resident

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Sandra Rohrstaff
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I went to Richmond on Monday to attend a seminar on long term care litigation. We heard speakers from around the country who educate lawyers on how to help families whose loved ones have been hurt in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Here’s what we heard about common defenses that are always raised:

If the resident was injured in a fall, the first defense position is that it’s a privacy issue, that they leave the residents alone (especially in the bathroom) so they can have their privacy. This is their position even if the resident was a known fall risk.

If the resident developed a pressure ulcer, the defense says, “What were we supposed to do? We were busy trying to save the person’s life! It was unavoidable.”

Those are the exact comments I recently heard about two residents whose stories I listened to. The problem with the defendants’ comments is that they ignore their duty to care for their residents.

A pressure ulcer is only unavoidable if all precautions are taken to keep it from developing. If those precautions have not been taken, then the pressure ulcer could have, and should have, been prevented.

A resident’s privacy does not come before her safety. If she’s a fall risk, there are ways to be respectful while she’s in the bathroom without leaving her alone to fall.

Many incidents that injure residents in nursing homes happen because the facility does not have adequate, competent staff available to care for the residents. I expect that is what I will find once I get real information about what was going on when my one client fell and the other developed an infected pressure ulcer.

Category: Elder Neglect

Sandra Rohrstaff
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Virginia Child Injury and Elder Abuse Attorney

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