Nursing Home Justice Blog

How to Know if the Nursing Home Caused Your Loved One’s Death

Written By:

Attorney Mac Hester

Date Posted:

September 25, 2023

Many nursing homes residents are advanced in their years, with the average age being 65+ years old. As these residents age, their bodies begin to deteriorate, and the natural process of death occurs. Although the nursing home population may experience more deaths due to old age than others, there are instances where unnatural causes cut a resident’s life short.

Specific details of a resident’s death may indicate that the nursing home had something to do with it. Understanding the differences between natural and unnatural death and the signs to look for may help you obtain justice for a loved one through a wrongful death claim. Here’s more on how a nursing home may be liable for wrongful death and the details that indicate an unnatural death.

How Can a Nursing Home Cause the Death of a Resident?

There is a direct correlation between elder abuse and a higher mortality rate among older adults. Research has shown that even modest forms of abuse can increase the mortality rate in older adults by as much as 300%. Nursing homes can cause the death of a resident through many forms of abuse and neglect, including the following:

  • Physical Abuse – Hitting, punching, kicking, pushing, or any other form of physical abuse dramatically increases the risk of death in older adults. Due to a resident’s weakened state, one push to the floor could be fatal.
  • Emotional Abuse – Verbal abuse, threats, and intimidation are some of the most common forms of emotional abuse. Isolating residents or refusing to let them participate in social activities is also emotional abuse. This may not cause death as quickly as physical abuse; however, emotional abuse takes its toll over time and leads to major depressive disorder, which has been found to increase the likelihood of death in nursing home patients by 59%.
  • Sexual Abuse – Rape, unwanted touch, or other inappropriate sexual behavior is an often-unreported form of abuse that has lasting impacts, including increased mortality among older adults.
  • Neglect – Nursing homes that fail to care for a resident’s most basic needs are neglectful. This can indirectly cause death in a nursing home and result in malnourishment, infections, falls, resident-to-resident abuse, and other consequences.

What Details Could Indicate the Nursing Home is Liable?

If your loved one’s death seems suspicious, and you believe that the nursing home was at fault, the following may indicate that they caused your relative’s death:

Physical Bruising

Bruising is common in elderly residents due to lack of blood flow, medication side effects, and other reasons; however, some bruises indicate abuse. Location is critical when determining if abuse occurred. For example, bruising around the wrists or ankles may indicate the misuse of physical restraints. Further, if bruising is present around the neck, you could assume strangulation.

Signs of Neglect

After a nursing home resident’s death, doctors may find that they were dehydrated or malnourished in some way, which could be a sign of neglect. Other signs of neglect might include soiled clothing, cluttered rooms, or poorly groomed residents. It’s also wise to consider your loved one’s behavior leading up to their untimely death. Did their personality change? Were they often isolated? How did they feel when nursing home staff members were around? The answers to these questions may provide further insight into the level of care they received.

Nursing Home Cleanliness

Nursing home cleanliness is a significant factor in preventing infectious diseases. Germs and bacteria can quickly spread in an unclean nursing home, causing a resident’s health to decline drastically. Lack of infection control and poor staff member hygiene could indicate that the nursing home’s neglect caused your loved one’s death.

The issue of nursing home cleanliness was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, where many residents suffered in facilities that were unprepared for the virus.

The Level of Care Other Residents Receive

If you want to get a good idea of how your loved one was treated during their stay at a nursing home, pay attention to how other residents are treated.

If the nursing home appears short-staffed, there’s a good chance that the patients aren’t receiving adequate care. Residents may be left in rooms alone for long periods, staff members might be hard to reach, or you may overhear a staff member verbally abusing a resident.

You could also research the facility’s history of abuse. If the nursing home has several violations, this could mean that it’s likely that your loved one was abused along with many others.

File a Wrongful Death Claim with Nursing Home Justice

When a nursing home’s negligence causes the death of a loved one, you have grounds for a wrongful death claim. Nursing Home Justice will walk you through the claims process and gather evidence proving your case to ensure you recover the necessary compensation. You might need compensation for funeral costs and the grief and sorrow of losing a relative.

Contact our office today at (970) 493-1866 schedule your free consultation today and obtain justice for your family.

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