For any nursing home, allegations of neglect are serious, and often carry significant fines. If the allegations are presented in a lawsuit, the organization can also be required to pay significant damages to the seniors involved in the incident, or their families if the neglect resulted in death. While there are many nursing home providers that have very few lawsuits or citations brought against them, others seem to have more than their fair share. One facility to which this applies is Life Care Centers of America.
Life Care Centers of America is a large provider of nursing home, rehabilitation, senior living and Alzheimer’s facilities in 28 states. The company has seen several lawsuits lately concerning neglect, and there are also potential criminal charges in at least one of the cases.
Nursing home neglect is a serious and growing problem throughout the United States, and its consequences are often deadly. In a nursing home setting, neglect occurs when staff members do not provide the care and attention that the seniors require for optimal health. It also includes failure to provide proper safety measures, and other actions that can constitute a danger to patients. The following are a few of the cases in which Life Care Centers has been accused of neglect of residents.
In 2007, a resident at Life Care Centers was found lying dead at the bottom of a short set of stairs. The 73 year old resident was in a wheelchair, which she had rolled out of the nursing home. While in some cases this might not have been a case of neglect, that was not the case in this situation. The patient’s doctor, who had diagnosed her with hydrocephalus, brain damage and dementia, had ordered that the nursing home provide a Wanderguard device for the patient in 1999, after she had been discovered in her wheelchair between two sets of doors, on her way out of the facility. This device, which sounds an audible alarm any time it approaches an exit door, was meant to protect the patient from being endangered by her wandering.
At the time of her death, the Wanderguard was no longer on the patient, and it was unknown when it had last been in place. Additionally, just before the accident, a change in policies had caused Wanderguard requirements to be removed from patient files.
Due to the severe negligence seen in this case, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts indicted the Life Care Centers of America location as a whole on charges of neglect and involuntary manslaughter. This was the first time in Massachusetts history that an entire corporation, rather than individuals, had been charged with criminal manslaughter. Unfortunately, when the case was taken to the Superior Court, it was found that the laws of the state could not support prosecution against a corporation.
In another neglect lawsuit, a Life Care Center of America was sued after a resident developed infection after back surgery due to being left in her own feces for several hours. This resulted in the patient requiring additional surgery to clean the wound of infection. The case was settled, without the terms being disclosed.
A jury awarded the son of a resident of Life Care Centers $10 million for neglect and acting recklessly after his mother died from dehydration and starvation within only 4 weeks of being admitted. In this case, staff members had even falsified records concerning the resident’s nutrition and fluid intake.
Nursing home neglect is a serious concern, and one that often results in death for our elders. If you believe your loved one is suffering or died from neglect while in a nursing home, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible.