LEGAL CLAIMS AGAINST NURSING
For many years, attorneys in Massachusetts took little interest in pursuing nursing home cases based on the mistaken belief that an injury to an elderly patient was not financially worth pursuing.
Recently, there has been greater recognition that nursing home cases do, indeed, have value and, in some instances, multi-million-dollar values. Hoey says he has been successful in such cases.
The majority of nursing home cases involve permanent injuries. Common injuries or health issues suffered by nursing home residents include: burns/scalding, dehydration, malnutrition and loss of weight, bedsores, aspiration, fecal impaction leading to septic shock, broken hips and fractures, physical/mental abuse, over or under medication, gangrene, urinary tract infections, and poor physical or dental hygiene. Not only do these and other injuries or health issues impact quality of life, in some cases they can be fatal. While many family members may be hesitant to file a lawsuit or even speak to an attorney, it is important to remember that the threat of a lawsuit is an incentive for nursing homes to improve the quality of care.
Atty. Hoey says that he has seen a dramatic decrease in nursing home abuse and neglect in Massachusetts in the six years he has been representing nursing home residents and their families.
The nursing home industry has lobbied for tort reform and for caps on recovery. By claiming that the high cost of malpractice insurance is due to increases in the number of lawsuits and the size of jury verdicts, the nursing home industry has been successful in putting such reforms in place in many states.
However, attorney Hoey says that if one were to examine whether insurance premiums for nursing homes have decreased in those states that have instituted tort reform, the answer would be no. Atty. Hoey is quick to point out though that improving the quality of care in Massachusetts nursing homes should start with educating the public and properly training the care givers and that litigation should be the last option.
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