How To Prove Nursing Home Negligence In Oklahoma
When you move an elderly family member into a nursing home, you trust that your loved one will be well cared for. These situations are stressful for everyone and it’s best to always “trust but verify.” Nursing home negligence and abuse is an unfortunate reality. In the United States, 12% of nursing home staff members have admitted to neglecting the needs of their elderly residents, which can cause severe injuries or even death.
In Oklahoma, The Nursing Home Care Act allows nursing home residents or their guardians to file a lawsuit if the facility violates a resident’s rights. If you are seeing issues in the facility or your loved one is telling you things that raise your suspicions, this article will provide you with the basics on how to prove nursing home negligence in Oklahoma.
Nursing Home Negligence vs. Abuse
It’s important to first understand how negligence is different from abuse. In short, nursing home negligence is unintentional act while abuse is intentional behavior—but both can be seriously damaging.
The CDC defines nursing home negligence as a failure to meet a resident’s basic needs. This includes nutrition, hydration, hygiene, mental health, and medical care.
Common Signs of Nursing Home Negligence
It can be difficult to pinpoint certain signs of neglect because elderly residents often have very normal and explainable issues that are the result of their illness or age. Some of the more obvious and common signs of negligence include:
- Repeated falls
- Infections from lack of proper hygiene
- Malnutrition or persistent hunger
- Unsanitary room conditions (e.g. soiled clothing or bedding)
- Unsanitary facility conditions (e.g. fecal or urine odors, dirty hallways, etc.)
- Untreated medical conditions
Negligence can also be hard to recognize because it is often due to operational or financial problems in the facility—for example, you may see the nursing home staff providing loving care to residents, but if there are simply not enough staff members, residents might be left on their own for unacceptably long periods of time. Nursing home negligence can stem from a variety of these types of issues, including:
Staffing Issues: There is a minimum threshold of care that should be provided to all residents, and some will even require near-constant support. But if the facility does not have enough staff members or has hired staff without the proper qualifications or demeanor, this threshold of care will not be met.
Lack of Training: Providing care for seniors is challenging and all nursing home employees should be thoroughly trained to carry out their duties. Even if staff members have an enthusiastic attitude and want to do a good job, they could inadvertently harm a resident if they are not properly trained.
Poor Facility and Equipment Maintenance: The best staff can be put at a disadvantage if the facility is run down or equipment is broken. Nursing homes are responsible for eliminating unnecessary dangers on the premises, whether that’s an uneven floor or malfunctioning bed.
What You Must Prove
Proving nursing home negligence in Oklahoma can be tricky, but you essentially need to establish four elements. You must prove:
- The nursing home or care facility had a duty of care toward the resident (you or your loved one)
- The facility breached its duty of care (e.g. failed to ensure proper hygiene or prevent bedsores)
- The facility’s negligence directly caused the resident’s injury—in other words, the injury would not have happened otherwise
- The resident incurred compensable damages
Building Your Case and Collecting Evidence
If you suspect that any type of negligence is occurring at the nursing home, the first step is to ask your loved one about their experience as a resident. Does what they report align with what you have observed? Write down and even video record what they have to say.
If that is not possible due the state of your loved one’s mental or physical health, you can begin investigating the situation on your own. Document any evidence of negligence you’ve witnessed. Make notes and take pictures of incidents where you’ve observed poor hygiene, bedsores, dehydration, malnutrition, odors, or filth. Also document any physical injuries or emotional distress the resident has exhibited. All of this evidence will help you build your case in court.
Reporting Process for Nursing Home Negligence
As soon as possible, discuss your concerns with the facility’s administrator. Keep a record of your complaint and document what actions management said they would take. If the health or safety issue is not addressed or remedied, it’s time to report the nursing home.
Start by filing a complaint with Long Term Care (LTC) Services by sending an email to [email protected] or calling 1-800-747-8419. LTC oversees the health and safety of residents living in licensed long-term care facilities (nursing homes, residential care homes, assisted living centers, etc.) and has an established complaint procedure. Give a detailed report of every instance of abuse you witnessed or specifics on why your suspicions were raised.
LTC surveyors will investigate your complaint and make follow-up visits to facilities under investigation to ensure issues are corrected or addressed.
When Do You Bring in a Lawyer?
As soon as you have collected some initial evidence, contact an experienced nursing home negligence attorney for a free, no-obligation consultation. After hearing the details of your case, the lawyer will advise you on your legal rights and options, as well as the best next steps. A nursing home negligence lawyer can also help you file a report with the state and investigate whether your family may have a compensation claim.
You can typically hire a lawyer to help you prove nursing home negligence in Oklahoma without worrying about the cost. Most attorneys in this field work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if you win your case.
If you’re worried about a loved one in a nursing home and have suspicions of negligence, we can help. Find out if you have a case with a free consultation from GT Law. We have over 30 years of experience handling nursing home negligence and can expertly guide your family through the entire process.
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