Medical Negligence*

Nursing Home Claims*

Nursing homes can be a safe, supportive environment for older people who need them and are expected to provide a high standard of care for their residents. However, accidents can still occur, particularly when safety policies and procedures are not followed.

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While most nursing homes provide excellent care for their residents, sadly it remains the case that negligence, and even abuse occurs in some cases. This can result in personal injury and emotional trauma.

Nursing homes have a duty of care to reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring and to ensure the safety and well-being of their residents. If they fail to uphold this duty, the nursing home or residential care facility could be held liable for any harm caused.

Common types of nursing home injuries

Accidents can happen at nursing homes despite the level of trust placed in them while they look after a family member. These may occur from a drop in standards of care during daily activities, or result from neglectful conduct or abuse. Preventative measures should be in place to minimise the risk of incidents occurring.

Some common types of nursing home injuries include:

  • Broken bones, spinal injuries and fractures

The risk of falling increases with age, with one in three older people experiencing a fall every year and two-thirds falling again within six months.

Falls in older people can have life changing consequences. Those over 65 are most likely to suffer serious injuries, disability, psychological consequences following a fall. In some cases a fall can be fatal.

However falls can be predicted and prevented. Nursing home residents must be appropriately supervised and aided when necessary to prevent slips or falls. A resident could fall if they have poor vision or balance, medication side effects, or if they don’t have the equipment they need to help them stand or walk.

Attention should always be paid to trip and fall hazards, such as wet floors, poor lighting, or incorrectly placed equipment in hallways.

  • Bed rail injuries

The purpose of bedrails is to prevent patients from falling from their beds, however they can also been the cause of injuries in nursing homes and hospitals.

Poorly-fitted bed rails can lead to a person’s neck, chest or limbs becoming trapped in gaps between the bed rails, or between the bedrails and the bed, headboard or mattress.

Nursing homes must ensure the risk of bed rail injuries is minimised for their residents’ safety.

  • Malnutrition

Malnutrition is a serious condition where a person’s diet does not contain enough nutrients to meet the demands of their body. This can affect growth, physical health, mood, behaviour and many of the functions of the body.

Malnutrition and dehydration in residents of nursing homes can happen if staffing is insufficient, if there is high staff turnover, or if there is a general lack of personalised care in the facility.

  • Concussions

Concussions generally result in dizziness, headaches, nausea, slurred speech and confusion. They can also lead to significant health problems such as hemorrages or dementia. Older people typically take a long time to recover from head injuries, and they can even be fatal if proper medical attention is not provided.

Some nursing home residents are at risk of falls from attempting to get out of bed without the required support. A slippery surface on a bathroom floor could lead a resident to fall and hit their head off a sink, wall or toilet.

Nursing homes must provide safe and hazard free environments to prevent the possibility of a resident sustaining a head or brain injury.

  • Infections

Elderly residents of nursing homes tend to have weaker immune systems or underlying health conditions making them more susceptible to certain infections and diseases.

It’s vital that nursing homes maintain disease control and prevention measures to ensure the health and well-being of residents.

Nursing home abuse

In Ireland, almost 16,000 cases of elder abuse were reported between 2017 to 2022 within Health Service Executive-funded services for older people. A total of 4,379 cases of physical abuse and 665 cases of sexual abuse were reported.1

Abuse in nursing homes can be emotional, psychological, physical, sexual, discriminatory, or simply involve a neglectful level of care. The risk of abuse may increase when staff members become overworked or frustrated.

When nursing homes are understaffed, patients may not receive adequate medical care and attention for their needs, which may have knock-on effects. For example, a drop in the level of care for personal hygiene could lead to infections.

Patients may also experience verbal abuse by care staff. This behaviour may arise from stressed and overworked staff, or if there is inadequate supervision.

Emotional stress for an elderly person can be a traumatising event and can lead to depression, anxiety, or even changes in personality and behaviour. Residents may also refuse care, suffer from sleep deprivation, experience sudden weight loss and be more susceptible to injury and infections.

If you suspect abuse in nursing home facilities, reach out to the HSE at 1850 24 1850, or locate your local safeguarding and protection teams for direct contact.

Additionally, you can communicate with the nurse manager at the nursing home. Each nursing home is expected to have an appointed and trained individual specifically for addressing elder abuse cases.

We also recommend you contact a member of our legal team if your family member has suffered any injuries or harm while in a nursing home.

If you or a family member have experienced any form of injury or negligence while under the care of a nursing home, you should speak to a solicitor as soon as possible after the event.

At Tracey’s we specialise in medical negligence claims. We can provide legal advice and guide you through the legal journey if you wish to pursue a claim against the responsible party.

 

1 Source: The Irish Times (2022)

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Need Help? Just Ask.

For more information and a confidential discussion on your medical negligence claim, call Elaine Hickey, Head Medical Negligence Solicitor, on +353 1 649 9900 and tell her about your medical malpractice case or reach out via email to ask@traceysolicitors.ie and she can call you back.

How do I make a claim?

Once you have gathered all the relevant information in relation to your injury it is then time to move forward with your claim. It is important to use a specialist medical negligence solicitor to help you with this.

  1. Speak with a solicitor

    If you feel that you were not provided with appropriate medical treatment whilst under the care of a medical professional which resulted in injury due to the actions or in-actions of a medical professional, then speaking with a medical negligence solicitor following the injury is imperative. Medical negligence is a complex topic in Irish law. Speak to a medical negligence solicitor when bringing a claim forward. This ensures that no essential steps are missed throughout the legal process. Bringing a claim forward without having spoken to a solicitor can delay your claims procedure. A solicitor can help to determine your medical negligence time limit claim.

  2. Obtain medical records

    In order to make a claim, it must be established and proven that the injury sustained was caused by the medical negligence of the doctor or medical staff tasked with your medical care. Therefore, after having spoken with you about your case, your solicitor will then request access to your medical records. At this stage, the solicitor will have your medical records assessed by an independent medical expert. This will help determine whether a surgeon or medical staff who treated you had, in fact, administered substandard medical care and if negligence was the cause of the injury and if your injuries/outcome could have been avoided if the appropriate level of medical care had been adhered to.

  3. Letter of Claim

    If the independent medical expert has concluded that medical negligence has occurred, then your solicitor will draft a Letter of Claim to the medical practitioner who treated you. A Letter of Claim will outline the nature of your case and invites the medical practitioner to settle your case. The next steps involved are heavily dependent on your case and response to your Letter of Claim and will determine whether your case will be brought to court or settled outside of court. Your solicitor will be on hand every step of the way to guide you through this process.

At Tracey Solicitors LLP, our dedicated medical negligence solicitors have years of experience in helping people deal with traumatic medical injury claims. We understand the injuries, both physically and emotionally, that you have suffered and have supported and helped many people in similar situations proceed with medical negligence claims in Ireland over the past 30 years.

For more information and a confidential discussion on your medical injury claim, phone 01 649 9900 or email ask@traceysolicitors.ie to tell us about your case, where you can speak with a member of our team straight away.

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Case Settlement

If you are to proceed with a medical negligence claim you may be entitled to claim compensation for the accident and added expenses, you may have incurred. These claims are called damages.

General Damages

General damages are non-financial damages such as pain and suffering and/or physical and emotional injuries following a medical negligence injury.

Special Damages

Special damages are out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the medical negligence injury, for example, loss of earnings (if you are out of work), medical bills, added travel costs as a result of the accident (for example, travel to and from the hospital) and future care costs. Learn more about Special Damages.

What are the Legal Time Limits?

The statute of limitations are the legal time limits on how long you have to make a claim, which can vary depending on the situation. When taking into account how long medical negligence claims take, it is important to remember that medical negligence cases require certain time frames in place within which you can bring a claim. For medical negligence claims it is two years less a day following the date of the incident or two years less a day following the date that a person made the connection that their illness or injuries were a result of medical negligence. Contacting a solicitor to discuss your case will help you in determining how long you have left to make a claim.

Medical Negligence Involving Children

In an unfortunate incident where a child is subject to medical negligence, the process of making a claim differs from that of an adult. A minor may be in a position to bring a claim forward in the first two years following their 18th birthday.

Learn more about Legal Time Limits

About Tracey Solicitors LLP

We draw on more than 35 years of experience in personal injury law to provide you with expert advice and legal services.

We’re here to help you with your claim, and will work with you to ensure you understand every step of your legal journey.

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