Family awarded $375,000 in nursing home wrongful-death case

The family of a former patient at a nursing home in Alabama was awarded $375,000 after the care facility was found guilty of causing his death. The arbitration to reach the decision took a week in the wrongful death case.

A 77-year-old man entered the care facility on Jan. 28, 2011. He had fallen and needed physical therapy that was expected to take about a month. However, he suffered from a serious bedsore on his sacrum that later developed into a hole that reached to the bone and became infected. He passed away on March 31, 2011, because of sepsis resulting from the bedsore.

The arbitrator determined that the facility did not provide the proper care or treatment for the patient as directed by his doctor. A former medical examiner said that he had been lying in the same position for long periods of time, which caused the bedsore. A nurse expert further explained that the nursing home documentation included a number of inconsistencies. One of the major considerations in the case was the discrepancy between the wound care nurse's record of her care of the patient and her time card. The documents recorded her as providing wound care during times when she wasn't on duty.

Arbitration is quickly replacing the process of a court and jury in nursing home cases. The arbitrators settle the case in a binding decision. Opponents say that the use of arbitrators can unfairly take away a person's right to a trial by their peers.

When a family member dies because of negligence on the part of a nursing home, they might decide to file a lawsuit against the responsible parties. A wrongful death attorney might be able to help clients arrive at a figure to request for fair and just compensation.

Source: Dothan Eagle, "Enterprise law firm wins wrongful-death case", July 16, 2013

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