The decision to place a relative into nursing or residential care can be a difficult one for families. While the majority of residential and nursing homes provide a high standard of care to their residents and patients, unfortunately cases arise where harm is caused as a result of substandard care. At O’Reilly Stewart, we have considerable experience in advancing claims on behalf of patients and their families arising from accidents and neglect suffered at residential care and nursing homes.
Care homes and nursing homes owe their patients the same duty of care as any hospital or healthcare provider. However, this is a challenging environment as patients are often vulnerable, frail, and have a broad range of care needs. Issues can arise in respect of the following areas in particulars:
Accidents / falls – Vulnerable patients often have limited mobility and are susceptible to serious physical injury from any slips, falls, or other accidents. It is therefore imperative that adequate risk assessments are in place and implemented consistently. Unfortunately, in our experience accidents can and do happen as a result of inadequate assessment of risk, or a failure to implement the preventative measures identified in risk assessments.
Manual handling – As many patients have limited mobility, often measures are required to be put in place when transferring patients. Again, it is important that risks are identified, and steps taken to minimise the risk of any injury in the process.
Pressure ulcers / sores – Many patients are confined to bed and accordingly measures need to be put in place to ensure that pressure ulcers / sores are not allowed to develop. Pressure sores can be painful and can also lead to infection. It is vital that care and nursing homes are live to this risk and take steps to prevent such injuries. Where such injuries do occur, it is often indicative of substandard care and neglect of patient needs.
Medication errors – In nursing homes, medication is commonly organised for patients by nursing staff. Obviously, such medication must be provided in accordance with appropriate prescriptions. Patients are often dependent on nursing staff, and therefore any medication errors on behalf of staff can lead to serious adverse consequences.
Failure to diagnose – Elderly patients, in particular, who suffer falls are vulnerable to fractures. These falls may occur in the absence of any witnesses and go unreported. Patients may have difficulty communicating any injuries / pain. It is therefore imperative that staff are live to this risk and vigilant in respect of any symptoms complained of by patients, or any bruising / cuts, so that any injury is diagnosed and treated as soon as practicable.
Nutrition / dehydration failures – Diets of vulnerable and elderly patients need to be appropriately monitored, to ensure patients are hydrated and well fed. Patients losing weight following admission to a care / nursing home can be indicative of a failure to adequately cater for their needs.
The above list is not exhaustive and represents a selection of the more common examples of negligence that can cause harm to residents and patients. If you or a loved one have suffered or been affected by any issue relating to care provided by care or nursing homes, please do not hesitate to contact our Healthcare Team.