Nursing homes provide care for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Our legal system therefore holds them to a very high standard. When a nursing home fails to provide adequate care to a resident, it could be held liable for resulting injuries. The common-law theory of negligence, when applied to a medical professional like a doctor or nurse, is often known as malpractice. Nursing home residents in Westchester County and throughout New York are also protected by a state law that allows them to sue a nursing home that causes injury by depriving them of a “right or benefit.”
In order to prevail in a negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove several elements. First, they must establish that the defendant owed a duty of care to them, or to the general public. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals owe a duty of care to their patients as a matter of law. A plaintiff must also prove that the defendant breached the duty of care owed to them, and that this breach caused their injuries. This is often the most challenging part of a claim for nursing home malpractice in New York. A plaintiff must demonstrate that, without the defendant’s breach, the injury most likely would not have occurred.
Medical errors, such as prescribing or administering the wrong medication, or the wrong dosage of medication, could constitute a breach of a medical professional’s duty of care. In the context of a nursing home, many breaches involve neglect of a resident’s basic needs, such as food, water, hygiene, or social connection.
Section 2801-D of the New York Public Health Law allows patients of “residential health care facilities” to file suit for injuries sustained due to a deprivation of a “right or benefit.” The definition of “residential health care facility” includes nursing homes, which the statute defines as a facility that provides both medical care and lodging to “sick, invalid, infirm, disabled or convalescent persons.” A close family member may be able to assert a claim on behalf of a nursing home resident who cannot advocate for themselves. If a nursing home malpractice suit involves a wrongful death claim, the executor of the resident’s estate may bring the suit.
A 2018 decision by a New York City court offers an example of common types of injuries and claims in nursing home neglect lawsuits. The plaintiff was the executor of the nursing home resident’s estate. The decedent resided or was treated at several facilities prior to her death. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants failed to prevent the decedent from developing pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores, and that the pressure ulcers were a factor in her death.
The lawsuit’s causes of action included wrongful death and conscious pain and suffering. Two of the defendants moved to dismiss these claims. The court denied the motion to dismiss the wrongful death claim. It dismissed the conscious pain and suffering claim on the basis that, at the time the decedent was under the care of those particular defendants, she was in a “chronic vegetative state.”
If you or a loved one have suffered injuries because of nursing home malpractice or neglect, the knowledgeable New York injury attorneys at the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel are here to answer your questions and discuss your options. To schedule a free consultation with a member of our team, please contact us today at 914-428-7386 or online.