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Negligent Supervision and Care in Nursing Home Injuries

Self-Injury and Accidents in a Nursing Home May Result From Negligent Supervision

When does a self-injury result from negligent supervision? What are standard care expectations?

With our aging population, 24-hour assistance and long-term care is becoming increasingly important for nursing home residents. Most families are confused over how much supervision is legally required to keep their loved ones safe from self-injury and properly cared for. The legal guidance is not well-defined, leaving families to rely on lawyers who know the boundaries and understand how to establish what reasonable care is for each individual case.

Here are some factors that determine whether or not a nursing home is guilty of negligent supervision or care:

Nursing home operators are under a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid injury to their patients, and the reasonableness of the care is assessed relative to the patient’s physical and mental condition. A nursing home has a duty to safeguard residents from the foreseeable consequences of their various physical and mental impairment(s), which includes taking reasonable precautions to protect those who are unable to protect themselves.

In most states, there is not a duty to have a one-to-one nurse/patient ratio or provide 24-hour monitoring of residents.

Nonetheless, a nursing home must consider each resident’s physical and mental condition, and formulate an appropriate standard of care for each resident.

If there is a known danger the resident may encounter due to his or her condition, the nursing home must do what is reasonably possible to prevent foreseeable injury to the resident. This includes protecting residents from hazards that may either cause them to injure themselves or be injured by others, including other residents.

A contract between a nursing home and a resident may affect the duty of care owed to the resident. If a contract requires only that the home provide such services as are “reasonably necessary” for the resident’s well-being, courts often hold the duty owed the same as that owed under the common law for that jurisdiction. Some courts hold private nursing homes to the same standard of care applied to private hospitals.

Special Knowledge

Where a nursing home has knowledge of special facts relative to certain residents, liability for failing to respond appropriately to such information may be imposed. For example, where nursing homes have had knowledge of violent or aggressive behavior of patients who later attacked other residents, they have been found liable for their failure to protect the other residents and/or supervise the violent residents.

The following are additional examples of cases when the failure to respond appropriately to certain facts resulted in nursing home liability:

  • Where a nursing home knew a resident was subject to occasional dizzy spells, the home was liable for an injury caused by a fall;
  • Where a resident was a smoker, had the use of only one hand, and was otherwise immobile, his death from burns sustained when his clothing caught fire was attributable to the nursing home’s negligence;
  • Where a resident who had recently had cataract surgery fell down a stairway, the nursing home was found liable;
  • Where a resident suffered from cerebral arteriosclerosis and senile psychosis, the nursing home was found liable for injuries caused by resident’s leap or fall from window

If you or a loved one was injured or died as a result of Negligent Supervision of a nursing home employee, contact the nursing home attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, LLC today for a free consultation to discuss your situation and to learn more about how we can put our experience to work for you.

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