Nursing home abuse lawsuits are often filed as medical malpractice actions. That’s because the cases involve the failure of medical staffers – certified nursing assistants, registered nurses and doctors – to abide by the applicable standard of care. The reason why it is important to distinguish between medical malpractice claims and those involving general negligence is that the process for prevailing on a medical malpractice claim is far more involved. Medical malpractice lawsuits require expert witnesses willing to attest that the medical professionals who are defendants in your case did not meet the basic standards of care, and therefore breached their duty to the patient and should be accountable for resulting injuries.
This is a stricter standard than general negligence.
In a recent case out of Georgia, a state appellate court has revived a lawsuit against a physician in a small-town nursing home over the treatment of a patient who died after suffering from an infection at the facility stemming from an untreated pressure sore.
According to The Daily Report, the appeals court justices ruled the trial court judge erred in granting summary judgment to the defendant, effectively cutting off plaintiff’s bid for a trial on the issue. But the court reversed that finding, concluding that at the very least, plaintiff had produced sufficient evidence to show there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the doctor breached the applicable standard of care. A material fact – as opposed to a matter of law – has be decided by a jury, not a judge.
Specifically, the court noted, there was opinion given by plaintiff’s expert medical witness who asserted defendant doctor breached the applicable standard of care to his nursing home patient by not setting a proper wound care plan that would have prevented the infection from developing in the first place. Additionally, the expert witness testified, defendant doctor didn’t timely respond to concerns about the patient’s condition or take action to assess it.
Plaintiff attorneys stated after the fact that the evidence and the law were in plaintiff’s favor on this, and that the ruling was important because it opens the door for decedent’s family to have their day in court.
The complaint indicates plaintiff, the daughter of decedent, was the primary caregiver for her mother up until September 2010, when she made the difficult decision to place her mother in a nursing home. She was no longer able to personally care for her daily needs, but the stay at defendant facility was only supposed to be temporary. However, she died just four months later. Plaintiff alleges in her nursing home neglect lawsuit that the cause of death was sepsis, caused by pressure ulcers, also sometimes referred to as “bed sores.”
The order for summary judgment indicated that plaintiff had failed to provide expert witness testimony that showed “proximate causation.” However under the law in that state, an expert witness doesn’t need to prove proximate causation, only that there was a breach of the standard of care by the medical provider. The question of proximate causation can be established by linking the testimony of several witnesses.
The summary judgment was reversed and the case remanded for trial.
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Appeals Court Revives Lawsuit Against Doctor in Nursing Home Death, Jan. 23,2017, By Katheryn Hayes Tucker, The Daily Report
More Blog Entries:
Nursing Home Abuse Covered Up, Ex-Workers Say, July 28, 2017, Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer Blog