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Nursing home's medical malpractice finally punished

A San Diego family has finally received some closure after a jury ruled in their favor on a wrongful death lawsuit filed in 2011. Negligence by nursing home staff constituted enough medical malpractice for the jury to award the family nearly $800,000.

The wrongful death suit centered on nursing home error in the care of a 94-year-old woman at the Vista Healthcare Center. The woman was struck by a food cart measuring 70 inches tall and over 2 feet wide, breaking her hip. She required surgery from the incident and during recovery she fell out of bed. A nurse's promise to place an alarm monitor on the patient in case she tried to get up another time went unfulfilled. Additionally, according to the protocol, the patient was supposed to be seen by a doctor within 3 days post-surgery, but medical records lacked verification any such visit occurred. The woman passed away five days after the surgery; her family filed a lawsuit the next year.

Failure of caregivers to abide by industry standards and regulations may result in medical malpractice. Liability for these failures can arise through flawed diagnoses or improper treatment. Generally, fault in medical malpractice cases must be shown by a caregiver's negligence. This requires proving that the health care professional owed a duty to the patient, fell below the applicable standard of care, this failure caused the patient's injury, and the patient was indeed injured.

Families affected by a health care professional's failure to abide by proper standards of care already endure hardships from the emotional and physical toll additional injuries bring. Medical malpractice claims can help these patients and families with some of the financial strain and allow them to get back to focusing on healing instead.

Source: ABC 10 News, "Negligence, cover up exposed when nursing home patient dies after getting hit by food cart," Cristin Severance, Nov. 3, 2014

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