Hospital, Nursing Home and Home Attendant Abuse – ALWAYS Have a Relative or Friend as Your Patient Advocate
Most doctors, nurses and home attendants are hard-working, dedicated professionals who care about their patients. Unfortunately, however, we have all seen some who do not fit this description.
I was recently consulted about a potential medical malpractice case and I was struck by the uncaring treatment received by the patient in the hospital. He had been an esteemed physician at the very hospital that was treating him so poorly in his elderly years for a particular medical condition.
It made me think back to a story told to me by a well-known physician who watched his elderly father, a retired physician, treated by physicians and nurses at a hospital as if he were a bother for being in terrible pain.
The news in New York City is filled with sad incidents about heartless healthcare workers allegedly causing helpless patients serious injury or death. A recent Daily News article reported that a nanny cam allegedly showed a home health aide in Queens violently shaking, yanking and smacking a 78 year-old stroke victim who was confined to a wheelchair. A number of years ago the New York Times detailed the story of a videotape that allegedly showed a patient at Brooklyn’s King County Hospital who collapsed in the psychiatric emergency room and was left lying on the floor for about an hour without any medical care causing her to die soon thereafter.
While both of these incidents as well as some other nursing home abuse incidents were captured on videotape, that kind of documentation is not always possible. To limit the chance of abuse of a patient in a hospital, nursing home or at home the most powerful weapon is a patient advocate. A friend or family member politely speaking to the staff about the patient’s special needs or problems (an unrelated back problem or an allergy to certain foods or medicine) and reminding the staff about unfulfilled requests (a bed adjustment, turning the patient over or an out-of-order phone) is vital to making sure your relative or friend is properly treated by nurses, doctors and home attendants. Patient advocates are often effective because human nature puts all of us (doctors, nurses and home attendants included) on our best behavior when we know someone is watching.
Elder abuse can result in severe bedsores, fractured hips, other serious injuries and even death. If you feel there is any mistreatment or abuse of the patient that is not corrected, do not hesitate to ask to speak to a supervisor or someone in charge at the facility’s administrative office. There is no higher reward than seeing your loved one properly cared for in his or her time of need.
While uncaring, insensitive or poor treatment does not necessarily mean abuse or medical malpractice, there are times when certain care rises to the level of negligence or medical malpractice which may cause serious injury or death.
To find out more information about potential nursing home abuse/ home care negligence or medical malpractice cases, please call me toll free at (877) CALL-LAW (225-5529) or (212) 714-0988 for a free consultation.
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