I am wondering if I have a case for Patient Neglect.

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 27, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I am wondering if I have a case for Patient Neglect. My mother who is now deceased was being evaluated and treated for severe COPD, sarcoidosis and asthma. During her treatment, she experienced a wound that she reported to doctors and nurses, who did not respond to her concern regarding her wound. Soon after she was released to a nursing home for rehab and scheduled to go home after. Due to the severity of her neglected wound she was unable to complete her rehab. It was severely painful. It was treated in the nursing home and she was sent to the Wound care center, but they were unable to treat her cause her breathing was so labored, and unfortunately after a time in the hospital she died.

I am wondering if the first hospital would be liable in this case for neglect?


Expert Answers

Carolyn Rosenblatt, R.N. and Attorney is the author of author of The Boomer's Guide to Aging Parents. She has over 40 years of combined experience in her two professions. As a nurse, she has extensive experience with geriatrics, chronic illness, pain management, dementias, disability, family dynamics, and death and dying. As a trial attorney, she advocated for for the rights of injured individuals and neglected elders. She is also co-founder of AgingParents.com.

Recognizing patient neglect in a hospital can be a very upsetting experience. It is not possible for me to advise as to whether the facts and evidence are sufficient under the laws of your state to bring a case for elder neglect. Wounds in elders can result from neglect, but also from a variety of causes including diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, other circulatory problems, etc. Proof of the cause of the wound is the responsibility of the injured person and her attorney,and it is not simple, believe me.

If you are concerned about what you have seen, and think there might be neglect, it is important to seek the advice of an attorney who is experienced in handling elder neglect cases or medical malpractice cases. Finding the right attorney to at least assess the facts and evidence is the first step. All such cases tend to be very complex and expensive to pursue. The defense of these matters is typically very aggressive and the process can be highly stressful for the person bringing the case. I represented injured people,and their survivors in lawsuits for 27 years.

My suggestion is to seek legal advice immediately, as there are statutes of limitations in every state, and the time to bring a claim or file a lawsuit is limited. There are many factors involved, far more that one could explain here.

If you don't know how to go about finding the right kind of attorney, you may see a fuller explanation in the booklet, How to Choose a Good Lawyer for Mom or Dad, which I wrote. It guides you in being a good consumer in this important decision.

I am sorry that you must deal with the stress of a possible legal case in the aftermath of the loss of your mother. It can help to get a legal opinion to put your mind to rest about whether the necessary elements are there for a lawsuit. A good lawyer will give you a reasoned opinion of the pros and cons of making this kind of claim.