It’s estimated that up to 1.5 million people currently reside in nursing homes around the U.S. In New Mexico, the Department of Health’s Health Facility Licensing and Certification Bureau is responsible for regulating nursing homes, which ensures that the proper care is afforded to residents.
Unfortunately, not all issues with negligence are discovered until after an incident has occurred. That’s why family with loved ones in nursing homes must stay vigilant so they can take the necessary steps should a problem arise.
When staff fail to provide reasonable care, residents are often harmed as a result. Depending on the person’s needs, staff may be required to help with tasks like grooming, meal preparation, medication management, and many others. Performing these tasks carelessly or failing to do them often results in serious injury, illness, or even death.
To show that nursing home negligence occurred, you must show the home breached their duty of care, which is the staff’s obligation to act reasonably and in accordance with the standards for caring for patients in a nursing home. Duty of care is based on prevailing laws and regulations as well as professional standards, but it can also be based on the terms contained within the contract between the nursing home and resident.
The resident must also present evidence of injuries that occurred because of this breach. For instance, if a person is immobile and requires help getting in and out of bed, it’s the staff’s responsibility to do so. If the resident is injured when attempting to get out of bed or develops an infection because of a bed sore, the nursing home could be held liable.
If your family member suffered injury or harm as a result of negligence in a nursing home, they are entitled to be compensated for the harms inflicted. Damages for medical expenses necessary for the treatment necessary as a result of the harm, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life may be recovered. Also, if your family member died as a result of the nursing home’s negligence, the damages include the value of life as well as possible claims for loss of consortium or the loss of relationship for spouses and children with very close relationships to the deceased.
If the act of negligence was particularly egregious and involve conduct that was intentional or reckless punitive damages may be recovered. Punitive damages are intended to punish the person or entity for their intentional, reckless, wanton or careless actions, and to act as a deterrent to others from engaging in the same type of conduct in the future.
If you’re afraid your loved one is in immediate danger, they should be removed from the home as soon as possible. You should inform the administrator of the issue so corrective action can be taken. Additionally, complaints about nursing homes can be filed with the New Mexico Department of Health. If you’re interested in pursuing a negligence claim as well, Martinez, Hart, Sanchez & Romero, P.C. is here to help you. Elderly people and others requiring a high level of care are vulnerable to harm and rely upon those tasked with caring for them.