There are a lot of nursing home lawsuits in the Baltimore area for a reason. The state of elder care in the United States is incredibly poor. Sending a loved one to a nursing home has become more and more difficult, not for lack of quantity, but for lack of quality care.
The problem is especially big in Maryland, where malpractice, malnutrition, and plain bad care run rampant throughout the eldercare system.
If the number of lawsuits filed is any indication, some of the lowest quality care facilities are in Prince George’s County (P.G.) and Baltimore City. You can argue that these are the best jurisdictions for plaintiffs so, of course, all of the cases get filed there. But you can also read the list of complaints and inspections that the government does. Trust me, P.G. County and Baltimore City are not great jurisdictions for nursing homes.
- Samples of Maryland nursing home lawsuits: get a sense of the type of claims that are being filed in Maryland
Types of Nursing Home Negligence
Nursing home negligence is a term that really includes four types of conduct: abuse, neglect, malpractice, and premises liability.
- Abuse – Of all the various types of nursing home negligence, abuse should make your blood boil the most. Nursing home abuse is characterized by purposeful act or acts that are grossly negligent. Nursing home abuse includes physical assault and battery, sexual acts, false imprisonment, and deprivation of basic necessities like food, water, and medicine. This is not the biggest problem in nursing homes. Usually, the problem is not evil, but pure neglect and indifference.
- Neglect – Nursing home neglect does not always manifest itself through intentional acts. Rather, neglect is typically found in scenarios where nursing home staff have a duty to ensure the safety and health of patients and fail to do so. There are different types of neglect: such as emotional neglect, personal hygiene neglect, and medical neglect. This form of negligence can be committed by staff, orderlies, or really any employee who has a duty to ensure the health and proper care of a nursing home resident.
- Malpractice – Nursing homes usually employ in-house doctors to administer medical help to residents on the spot. Unfortunately, given the similar age and number of residents, doctors do not give the individualized care that is actually needed. Granted, this is not the case with every nursing home doctor; however, the mentality of a small group of nursing home doctors seems to be contrary to how a reasonable doctor should treat patients in the elder care field.
- Premises Liability – Premises liability usually conjures up images of slips and falls in the grocery store. But believe it or not, premises liability cases actually represent a relatively significant portion of nursing home negligence cases. Nursing homes are often older facilities, with equipment laying all over the place. Plus the care provider to patient ratio is typically just barely satisfactory, limiting supervision for patients that truly need it to be safe. The fact that the elderly are most susceptible to falls only exacerbates this problem.
Nursing Home Negligence Law: Federal Regulation
Considering how big of a problem this is, the federal government stepped in back in 1987 to set out minimum standards of nursing home care. The Nursing Home Reform Act requires that all nursing homes accepting Medicare and Medicaid comply with a series of guidelines to ensure the highest practical “physical, mental, and psycho-social care” to residents.
Some of these nursing home standards include:
- Sufficient staffing
- Individualized evaluations of each patient’s capacities
- Procedures to reduce the chance of pressure sores
- Sufficient hydration and nutrition
- Pharmaceutical services
- Access to complete and accurate clinical records
If nursing homes violate federal guidelines, the government has the ability to use civil fines and penalties. If problems continue to be systematic, the federal government can actually suspend or revoke Medicare and Medicaid certifications. Should that occur, governmental insurance would not reimburse the facility for any services rendered to Medicare/Medicaid participants.
Nursing Home Negligence Law: Maryland
Of course, the federal government cannot do everything (or anything depending on who you ask). So states typically regulate nursing homes by way of licensing requirements. Maryland’s Office of Health Care Quality (which is a part of the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene) regulates nursing homes within the state.
Like most governmental agencies, the office does not have the assets to keep close tabs on every single nursing home. Still, agency regulations set forth a Nursing Home Bill of Rights, laying out more protection for Baltimore nursing home residents.
Violations of the Nursing Home Bill of Rights often provide a basis for a lawsuit and can give rise to monetary penalties from the state should they occur. Maryland “nursing home law” is the same as any other negligence case with respect to the proof you must give at trial. You must show that the nursing home’s negligence caused an injury. That’s it.
Proving Nursing Home Negligence
At the end of the day, it is important to remember that nursing homes are not liable for every single thing that happens on the premises. Rather, they are liable for those things that a reasonable nursing home could have anticipated and avoided. In neglect, malpractice, and premises liability cases, this means proving nursing home negligence.
A negligence case must be able to demonstrate that the nursing home staff had a duty to the resident and breached that duty, resulting in injury.
Abuse cases can involve either a negligence claim, but also claims for the intentional torts of assault and battery. Battery is comprised of an actual unwanted touching by someone else. Assault is the apprehension of that touching. Nursing home cases are becoming easier and easier to win given the fact that juries are not strangers to the atmosphere of eldercare.
While this may be great for Plaintiffs’ lawyers, it really is a disappointing reflection of the state of elder care in the country. I’d rather make a living doing something that actually helps and fixes these nursing homes. The fewer nursing home negligence cases – the better. I think most Plaintiffs’ lawyers would agree with me too.
Sample Nursing Home Verdicts and Settlements
Below are some sample verdicts and settlements from nursing home negligence cases. Trying a case before a jury is hardly an exact science, meaning these verdicts should serve as a guideline above all else. Every jury is different. Although juries are often sympathetic to the victims of nursing home negligence, numerous factors come into play in every verdict.
You might be wondering why you do not see many Maryland verdicts and settlements. The reason is the bad cases are dismissed and the good cases settle. Maybe an over-generalization, but it really holds up.
Okay, so why don’t we publish the results of our cases? Nursing homes are politically smart. They calculate the value of the cases and settle them. Sure, they jerk you around for months in litigation first. But that is mostly to discourage claims and to use the discovery process to figure out the value of the claims.
Keep in mind, too, that Baltimore is a good jurisdiction for nursing home cases. I would suggest to you that the value of most of these cases would be higher in Baltimore.
YEAR / STATE
CASE / INJURY SUMMARY
A 78-year-old Ohio Veterans Home resident was found unresponsive in the dining room. The man had choked on a piece of chicken. He was brought to the emergency room, where he died. His daughter alleged that the nursing home’s negligence caused his death. She claimed they failed to appreciate his high choke risk status and failed to monitor his diet. The parties agreed to a $115,000 settlement.
$115,000 – Settlement
2020 – Virginia
An 89-year-old man with dementia presented to the hospital after suffering a stroke. He was subsequently transferred to a nursing home. Before his transfer, he had no bedsores. About a month and a half later, he had a small left buttock bedsore. Within a month, he had two Stage II left thigh bedsores. For several months, the nursing home staff did not administer pain medications or perform skin assessments. One year later, he underwent a sacral wound debridement. The man was transferred to the emergency department. He was diagnosed with a soft-tissue infection, ulceration, and osteomyelitis. The man died shortly after. His cause of death was dementia, sepsis, and a sacral decubitus ulcer. His family alleged that the nursing home staff’s negligence caused his death. They claimed they failed to timely treat his bedsores, pain, and fever. The case settled for $100,000.
$100,000 – Settlement
A nursing home resident fell on her room’s floor as she walked to the bathroom. She suffered a right hip fracture. The woman underwent hip surgery. She died a month later. Her family alleged that the nursing home staff failed to supervise her, appreciate her fall risk, and execute a fall prevention plan. This case settled for $110,000.
$110,000 – Settlement
An 89-year-old woman with dementia and macular degeneration lived in a nursing home. Within the two months of admission, she developed two urinary tract infections. The woman also suffered a fall. The next day, she fell again and suffered a neck fracture and head trauma. The woman wore a rigid collar for three months. Her mental status declined to where she could not recognize her relatives. The woman’s family alleged that the nursing home staff’s negligent care constituted elder abuse. They claimed they failed to assist with daily activities and personal hygiene. The jury awarded a $5,500,000 verdict.
$5,500,000 – Verdict
$2,100,000 – Verdict
A 75-year-old nursing home resident suffered bedsores, rapid weight loss, mental confusion, respiratory failure, and hypoglycemic episodes during his stay. His conditions were left undiagnosed and untreated. One day, he went into hypoglycemic shock. The facility staff delayed calling an ambulance. This caused the man to suffer permanent brain damage. He was in a coma for six months before dying. The man’s wife alleged that the facility’s negligence caused his death. She claimed they failed to timely diagnose and treat his condition. The jury awarded her a $2,980,000 verdict.
$2,980,000 – Verdict
A woman was admitted to a nursing home after breaking her hip. Her medical history included a healed bedsore. The woman initially suffered a small bedsore during her stay. Two weeks later, it developed into Stage III. The woman underwent a debridement. Following the procedure, the wound care physician ordered the application of moist gauze. The nursing home staff failed to implement this treatment. Several weeks later, the now-infected bedsore was at Stage IV. The woman died from her injuries. Her family alleged that the nursing home staff’s negligent care caused her death. They claimed they failed to prevent her bedsores and failed to follow the physician’s post-surgical instructions. This case settled for $375,000.
$375,000 – Settlement
A 70-year-old man was admitted to a nursing home after undergoing a below-the-knee amputation. After undergoing dialysis, he was left unattended for 15 minutes. The man lost consciousness and fell over. In the next few days, he continued to undergo rehabilitative treatments and dialysis. The man complained of pain in his right hip. He underwent an X-ray, which revealed a hip fracture. The man was brought to the hospital the following day. A year later, he died from unrelated causes. His surviving family alleged that its staff failed to appreciate his fall risk, negligently left him unsupervised, and failed to timely X-ray him. The jury ruled in their favor and awarded $1,000,000.
$1,000,000 – Verdict
$300,000 – Verdict
$1,000,000 – Verdict
$14,447,906 – Verdict
$1,500,000 – Verdict
$175,000 – Settlement
Getting an Experienced Lawyer to Help You
Our attorneys handle nursing home negligence cases and have years of experience doing so and a track record of success. If you or a loved one has fallen victim to negligent care, call me or one of my colleagues at 800-553-8082 or get a free online case consultation.