There is nothing more agonizing to a family than making the decision to place a loved one in a nursing home, assisted living, or memory care. The fear of having your loved one suffer an injury or dying in a nursing home has been heightened in recent times with the COVID-19 pandemic, where we have seen numerous outbreaks of the virus in nursing homes with people being forced to say good-bye to their loved ones through glass windows over cell phones. In Georgia, our elderly family members, parents, and grandparents are some of the most vulnerable members of society who deserve to be protected when we entrust nursing homes with their lives. Unfortunately, it is too often that nursing homes are understaffed, staffed with unqualified employees, or lack the adequate policies and procedures and cause their elderly patients to suffer from falls, bed sores, COVID-19, abuse, or other injuries.
Like any personal injury claim, nursing home claims are based on the carelessness or negligence of the nursing home and/or its employees causing an injury or death to the patient. Proving up a claim involves showing that the nursing home and/or its employees breached the standard of care (what would a reasonable nursing home in the same shoes would have done in the situation?) and that breach caused the patient to suffer from injuries. These standards must be established by an “expert” who is willing to sign an affidavit as to how the nursing home breached the standard of care. In the context of a nursing home, there are protocols that should be followed to protect patients from becoming injured, and every case is different.
For example, where a patient is considered a fall risk due to weakness, disease, inability to walk, or for any other reason, the facility should take precautions, such as identifying the fall risk, using bed rails, instructing the patient to not get out of bed without help, and turning on bed alarms to reduce the risk of falling.