Care Home Neglect
Care Home Neglect Claims
We expect the best possible care for our loved one and sadly this is not always the case. Our lawyers help clients whose family members have suffered medical negligence in a nursing home. Read on for information on the types of accidents we can help with and for more about our expert lawyers.
Stephanie Prior Partner
With an ageing population, more and more of us are being looked after in residential care and nursing homes. But according to a report by the Care Quality Commission, the healthcare needs of society’s most vulnerable people are being neglected.
Over 350,000 elderly people are living in 10,000 care homes in England. Each of them will have particular health issues and need access to medical and other support, such as mental health, continence and tissue health, physiotherapy, diet and nutrition services. Approximately 40% of care home residents suffer from dementia, and the average lifespan from admission is only two years.
So this is a challenging environment, and the provision of services between private and state-run care homes and the NHS can be patchy, to say the least.
Care homes owe the same duty as hospitals, hotels, or other institutions that look after residents. But they must do more to meet that duty because of the vulnerability of those they care for and their wide range of needs. If they fail in that duty, serious injury or even death can result.
The following particular issues need to be identified and assessed by all care homes:
Control of Infection
Elderly people in care and nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to infection, which carries a high mortality risk. So the premises, especially the kitchens and bathrooms, must be scrupulously clean. Strict hygiene policies must be in place to deal with food production and infection control. Staff and residents are at risk from waste and blood that is inadequately disposed of, contaminated food and medical equipment, legionella from poorly maintained water and air conditioning systems, and inadequately controlled infection in an individual patient.
Sadly there is malpractice in some care homes, and the suspicion is that it is more widespread than is acknowledged. Since the Winterbourne View abuse scandal in 2007, there have been a number of prosecutions and reports of abuse, where those employed to look after vulnerable residents have been guilty of neglect and sometimes physical assaults. If a resident is abused in this way, the care home will usually be liable for the actions of its employees. Evidence is key, and care home records, witness testimony and video and photographic evidence may all play a part in uncovering the malpractice.
Elderly residents in care and residential homes can be frail and suffering from illness or disease, so it is no surprise that there are accidental injuries from trips, slips, falls, and other incidents. Such incidents are very common among elderly people who are living at home. But there is a distinction between those accidents on the one hand and avoidable injuries on the other.
For instance, an elderly person at home is very likely to check the temperature of the bath water before getting into it at home. If bathing a vulnerable resident or patient is the responsibility of the care home, they should have assessed the risk of burns and scalds and ensured that there are proper safety precautions in place. Namely, thermostatic mixing valves on the taps and care workers trained to test the water before bathing a patient. There have been several reported cases of patients being seriously injured or even killed by being bathed in scalding hot bath water.
Transfers and equipment
Another common situation involving the risk of avoidable injury involves transfers. If a resident or patient cannot transfer independently, for instance, from bed to chair, their needs must be assessed and a proper system put in place. This may be a protocol for two carers to assist or involve using a board or hoist. If the patient is left to their own devices or if the assistance or equipment are inadequate then there is a high risk of injury, which will be caused by a negligent failure on the part of the care home.
Equipment must be properly used, and the care providers must be trained in its safe use. A tragic example of where this can go wrong is the case in September 2012, where an elderly woman was asphyxiated in her bed between her mattress and the incorrectly fitted safety rail. Safety rails are commonplace in care homes to prevent falls, but the staff weren’t properly trained in this case. The care homeowners were prosecuted by the HSE and fined £180,000.
Care Home Claims for Patient Falls
Falls in the elderly can be devastating, causing fractures which can lead to impairment and even death. While medical conditions such as confusion or hypoglycaemia can predispose patients to fall, simple precautionary nursing measures can protect vulnerable people from coming to harm through falling. For example, regular monitoring, moving personal items to be within easy reach and providing nonslip socks.
Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs)
HAIs are infections that are picked up while in a hospital or in other healthcare settings such as nursing homes. The worst cases can lead directly to death. Straightforward good nursing practice can reduce the risk of HAIs running rampant and causing harm. Basic hand hygiene, good wound care, sterile techniques and proper medical equipment cleaning all contribute to safer patient care.
Medication errors are a significant problem in the NHS. Around 237 million medication errors occur in the NHS in England every year. Avoidable adverse drug reactions contribute to between 2,000 and 22,000 deaths annually. These errors cost the NHS at least £98.5 million annually, although this could be a gross underestimation. Pharmacists, doctors and other healthcare professionals are all responsible for various medication errors.
Nurses are responsible for the majority of medication administrations in a clinical setting. There are many reasons why a nurse may cause a medication error: similar drug names, poor labelling and distraction when giving out medication.
According to the National Diabetes Inpatient audit, ‘2 in every five people with diabetes on insulin experience an error related to administering the drug while in hospital’.medication errors by nurses can also occur in the community. A study of people who received palliative care at home was published in the Palliative Medicine Journal.1 It was found that of 1072 patient safety reports over a five-year period, 613 were related to medication error. Around two-thirds of these incidents caused harm to patients, and 129 suffered serious harm, which led to either hospital admission or early death.
Nursing Care Home Claims
Like other healthcare professionals, nurses do not go to work to cause harm to the people to whom they are providing care, be it in a birthing suite, a neonatal ward or on the phone to a 999 caller. However, errors do happen, and sometimes these errors cause serious harm or even death. If you think you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing care negligence, you may be entitled to claim compensation. To find out more, please get in contact with Osbornes Law. We have a team of medical law specialists who can advise you if you have a claim and will guide you through the process.
Our Promise to You
- We will review your potential care home claims by advising you on the NHS complaints procedure or other alternative procedures if your case does not relate to NHS care and treatment.
- Our care home claims solicitors do not charge a fee for our time reviewing your case.
- Our care home claims lawyers can assist you with any issues that you may have regarding the complaints procedure or that you encounter in obtaining copies of your medical records.
- We will advise you of the course of action in respect of your case
Contact our Medical Negligence Solicitors Today
Call us to speak with a lawyer 020 7485 8811
Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you
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"Osbornes somehow combine the accessibility of a local firm, with the professional standards of a national or city outfit."
"Osbornes, is described as having ‘superb judgement and a medical knowledge that is second to none."
Stephanie has developed a particularly strong reputation for her handling of birth injury claims, as well as cases concerning surgical negligence and delays in surgery.
"An excellent firm which achieves fantastic outcomes for clients."
"Stephanie Prior takes on complex cases and gets excellent results. She has a background in medicine which serves her clients well and is a realistic but tough litigator."
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Osbornes provides a very intimate and personal client service which is increasingly rare in this sector.
The lawyers in the team are highly experienced and will drive cases very hard on behalf of their clients.
"Stephanie Prior has a realistic attitude to the complexities of the cases. She wins the trust of her clients and goes the extra mile to ensure they get the best outcomes."
"Stephanie Prior... manages a varied caseload, including obstetric claims, child and adult brain injury cases and fatal and non-fatal spinal cord injury cases."
"Stephanie is experienced, knowledgeable of all aspects of clinical negligence work, and strategic in running cases."
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"The team were extremely professional in putting my needs first. There was a joined-up approach to catering for the client, and all lawyers involved were briefed and constructive."
Stephanie Prior is always very professional and kind. Highly recommended.
Quite simply excellent, with a highly competent and well-rounded team. They understand complex medical litigation and have been our lifesavers, and we will always owe them our immense gratitude.
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Our Medical Negligence Solicitors View the whole team
Rob Aylott Partner
Personal Injury Solicitors
Jodi Newton Partner
Ben Posford Partner
Personal Injury Solicitors
Stephanie Prior Partner
Tahsin Choudhury Paralegal
Sophie Cole-Ducker Paralegal
Elline Demetriou Solicitor
Nicholas Leahy Associate
Andreea Martin Paralegal
Josie Robinson Senior Associate
Laura Swaine Senior Associate
Personal Injury Solicitors