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Mondelli v. Kendel Homes Corp.

With regard to the Mondellis' appeal, we conclude that the district court abused its discretion in excluding the testimony of Drs. Pour and King. This exclusion of evidence was prejudicial error. The district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to allow joinder of the claims of the Mondelli family.

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Nursing Home Concerns and Litigation

The Mid-west’s elderly population has skyrocketed, and continues to grow. Nursing home populations are on the rise and pressures for entry continue to grow, too. Yet, nursing home care is increasingly a matter of legal concern. Altogether too often, nursing homes seem to lack staffs with sufficient training, patience, or commitment to their work. Residents in nursing homes often have difficulty communicating with their families and friends when there is a problem with the care they are receiving.

Common Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Abuse can occur in a number of different forms. In our nursing home practice, we find that when problems arise, they typically fall into one of the following four categories of nursing home abuse: physical abuse, sexual or emotional abuse, financial abuse, and general neglect.

Nursing home patient neglect manifests itself in a myriad of ways. These include:

  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Malnutrition
  • Deterioration in health
  • Hypo/hyperthermia
  • Odor of feces or urine
  • Inadequate staff supervision
  • Lice, rashes, and sores
  • Untreated medical conditions
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Injuries covered up
  • Delay in communication after an incident
  • Falls
  • Inadequate restraints
  • Uncontrolled infections
  • Behavior changes

Bed Sores May Be a Sign of Neglect

A common form of general neglect is the development of bed sores. These are referred to as decubitus ulcers or pressure sores. Bed sores are lesions caused by unrelieved pressure resulting in damage of the underlying tissue. Bed sores usually develop over the bony prominences and are classified by the degree of tissue. Most common areas for development are the buttocks, hips, and heels, but are also known to develop on the shoulder blades, ears, and ankles.

The unrelieved pressure, along with other contributing factors, leads to the skin breakdown and persistent ulcerations. The presence of bed sores does not necessarily suggest negligent care, but it is a strong indication that family members should beware. Simply stated, bed sores should not develop. The common cause of bed sores are failure to make sure that the resident is moved, or turned.

Detecting Signs of Physical, Sexual & Financial Abuse

Open wounds, cuts, welts, bruises, or discoloration are equally strong indications of physical abuse or indifference. Caretakers who are confronted about such conditions present in patients should be able to offer spontaneous, adequate explanations. They should be willing to share nursing home records which disclose, in a professional record keeping style, that these conditions have been noted in the patient; the date of detection and circumstances of detection of such condition should be noted.

Where appropriate, an investigation within the nursing home should occur - before the matter is brought to management’s attention. An elderly resident’s sudden change in behavior or display of fear toward certain staff members should be address as serious. Weight loss, or burns apparently caused by cigarettes, caustics or acids should prompt immediate questions. Sexual or emotional abuse of patients can occur too. Where caregivers are overly affectionate, or the resident is socially isolated from others, concern about such abuse should be registered.

Of course, financial abuse is a concern. Nursing home personnel should be given charge over, or access to a residents financial records, bank account information, credit card information, jewelry, or other valuables. Family members, in careful, consultation with the elderly patient, must assure that the patient is safeguarded against exposing staff members to the temptation to commit theft. There are other signs to be alerted to. Caregiver blame for the resident for acts such as incontinence, intemperance, etc., all suggest an attitude that should put family members on guard.

A caregiver should never consider a nursing home resident as anything other than a patient. Where the staff’s attitude suggests the resident is a burden, serious management problems are present. Of course, most facilities have training programs to protect against these problems. State and federal governments have investigative agencies available for processing complaints, although our experience is that complaining to government officials is often unsatisfactory. Various state and federal statutes exist to protect nursing home patients. Consultation with lawyers to explore protective rights should occur.

Assisted Living Options

Assisted living facilities are a popular alternative to nursing home care. Opportunities for physical or financial neglect are greatly diminished in these facilities due to the resident’s autonomy. The National Center for Assisted Living provides development and operational guidelines for these facilities. Their data, including regulatory reviews from assisted living facilities performed by the NCAL, can be obtained from licensing authorities. Some of the safeguards concerning nursing home care apply to assisted living facilities - family members should be on guard about these matters.

Call Domina Law Group for the Help You Need

Domina Law Group is a group of trial lawyers with cases for disadvantaged and injured persons and their families across the United States. The firm provides trial services in courtrooms before judges and juries on a recurrent basis, and is recognized by its peers as one of the nation’s most aggressive trial practices. The firm’s verdicts and cases include dozens of million dollar, several multimillion-dollar verdicts, and one verdict for more than $1.2 billion. Our lawyers currently have cases pending in nearly half the states in the nation and in federal courts from coast to coast and border to border.

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