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Noland Law Firm, LLC Legal Blog

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Missouri Nursing Home Death Costs It Medicaid Funding

Q: What constitutes nursing home neglect?

Whoever said the “golden years” were wonderful, likely never had to place a loved one – – or themselves – – in a nursing home. While there are certainly facilities that provide an excellent standard of care to their senior residents, Missouri nursing home neglect and abuse lawyers often see the uglier side of what too often goes on behind the nursing homes doors.

Elder abuse can take many different forms, including financial, physical, and emotional. Such abuse can come at the hands of family and friends, trusted financial advisors, caretakers, and even strangers.

Like abuse, nursing home neglect is also damaging to victims. Caretakers have a duty to provide accepted standards of care and safety to the senior citizens they’re responsible for supervising. Some examples of nursing home neglect include:

  • falls
  • pressure sores
  • wandering or elopement
  • malnutrition or dehydration

A Florissant nursing home has reportedly been the subject of multiple complaints in recent years, with an uptick in the past few months. The facility was reportedly fined in 2014 regarding the elopement/wandering off of an Alzheimer's resident and again in 2016 after another Alzheimer's resident was left unsupervised and found dead in a bathtub.

Now the facility’s Medicare funding for new residents has reportedly been suspended after the bleeding death of a resident who suffered from "heart failure, dementia, one-sided paralysis and a seizure disorder" and was taking blood thinners. The patient allegedly died after “pulling out stitches and a dialysis catheter” despite multiple nurses’ notes reportedly indicating the patient "continually pulled at the tubing and requires constant watching".

Despite being aware of the need for “constant monitoring”, an apparent lapse of 2 ½ hours seemingly occurred between two nurses’ notes on the patient’s status on the morning the patient died. In the earlier note, the patient was reported to be alive and still pulling at the tubing but then, in the note 2 ½ hours later she was reportedly found in bed in a pool of blood after having apparently-- at some point during those 2 ½ hours-- succeeded in pulling out the catheter. A third note made only 5 minutes after the discovery indicated the patient was unresponsive.  

Notably, "investigators discovered the patient's electronic medical record was changed two days later” when two additional notes were allegedly added during the 2 ½ hour window both indicating “all tubing intact". The second added note was timed just 12 minutes before the patient was discovered in a bloody state—possibly in an effort to close what appeared to be a 2 ½ hour gap in monitoring. An EMT reportedly noted to investigators that "some of the blood that pooled under the bed was coagulated on arrival" and that the staff’s stories and details of the incident conflicted.

When a death results from the negligence of another person or entity, the victim’s surviving family members may be entitled to damages through a wrongful death lawsuit if they can establish the defendant’s liability for the death.

Wrongful death lawsuits are complicated and differ on a case-by-case basis, so seeking the help of a skilled personal injury attorney as soon as possible is advisable to learn who has standing to sue and what type of damages they may be able to recover. Generally, the funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, and the victim’s pain and suffering before they died may be recoverable. Depending on the particular case, loss of future income, loss of future medical or retirement benefits, loss of companionship, and loss of support and guidance may also be recoverable damages.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, the experienced and compassionate attorneys at Noland Law Firm can help you recover the maximum compensation to which you are entitled. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our office in Liberty, we represent injured people and their families throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area and western Missouri, including Clay County, Liberty, Blue Springs, Independence, and Gladstone.


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