Solicitors Specialising in Medical Negligence Compensation Claims
Compensation claims regarding personal injury or harm as a result of negligence caused by nursing home staff, have recently increased, especially in private homes. A solicitor who specialises in medical negligence since may be able to help you to deal with this if you think your relative is suffering harm in their nursing home.
Although the UK healthcare system is generally regarded as one of the best in the world, many privately run nursing homes have opened over the past few years. Private doesn’t mean bad or dangerous, but the fact that you are paying doesn’t necessarily make them the best places either.
Elderly people who live or spend most of their time in one of these homes, rely, almost entirely, on the staff to look after them and to help them to enjoy a good quality of life. Most of the time there are no problems. But what happens when those ‘carers’ don’t do their job properly, causing harm or injury to the elderly?
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Nursing and Care Home Negligence – the frightening scale of the problem
The figures for those who have died or been abused in the nation’s care homes and hospitals are shocking.
Recent numbers from the Office of National Statistics suggest that nearly 500 elderly people die each year as a result of dehydration and even starvation. It is also estimated that around two and a half thousand people die in the UK’s hospitals each year as a result of sepsis. MRSA and an infection called clostridium difficile are believed to be to blame for many of these sepsis cases and had it not been for the NHS’ push to improve ward hygiene it is believed that the number of elderly sepsis deaths would be closer to 10,000, where is was just a few years ago. Worryingly, it is predicted that the deaths for sepsis caused by bed sores are even higher than the sepsis figures suggest.
The reports about abuse of the elderly in the nation’s care homes and hospitals perhaps makes more even more unpleasant reading. Estimates from the joint research between Action on Elder Abuse and Kings College London suggest that somewhere between 400,000 and 500,000 elders are abused across the UK by the nurses and care home staff that they place their trust in. Examples include elderly patients being left naked or lying in filthy conditions, as well as dementia sufferers being strapped to their bed so that they cannot wander away.
Between 100 and 200 thousand dementia patients each year are negligently prescribed unnecessary medication according to government figures, leaving them dazed and confused.
Alzheimer’s charities believe that nearly 2000 deaths are caused each year by such negligence when the most effective treatment requires talking to the patient to clarify their causes of anxiety and stress.
Proving your claim
In brief, when considering a claim to a medical negligence lawyer:
- You must show there was negligence
- Injury or harm must have resulted from this
- You might be entitled to a ‘no win, no fee’ claim.
Click here to read more about no win no fee agreements and how they can help you claim compensation
Complain or claim compensation – your options
If you suspect a nursing home is guilty of negligence you can:
- Speak to one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors
- Complain to your local council social services department
- Complain to the Commission for Social Care Inspection
So, first step is to complain to the nursing home concerned as soon as you can. It might be the case that your complaint is enough to make an effect. Also bear in mind that not all complaints are worth pursuing with a legal claim. But if your case is more serious and you want to pursue litigation, speak to a specialist medical negligence solicitor. This professional will review your case and tell you if they can help.
Are you worried about how you are going to pay the costs of pursuing your case against a nursing home? Don’t forget that you might be entitled to a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement. Another possibility can be your household insurance. Most of them cover legal expenses which might allow you to claim.
It’s worth finding out about the possibilities before embarking on the long process of a legal negligence claim. Most importantly, good, experienced support from a specialist medical negligence lawyer can make the process of making compensation claims a lot easier.
Nursing Home Negligence – The Most Common Types of neglect
The results of this kind of neglect can be extremely serious for the residents in a nursing home. Among the most common grounds for neglect, and compensation claims, are;
- failing to prevent bed or pressure sores
- blood clots on the lungs
- head injuries
- illness caused by incorrect medication
- mental, sexual or physical abuse of residents
- incorrect handling of patients
- failing to assess the patient or creating a care plan
- failing to carry out routine risk assessments
- failure to give a patient enough food or drink
- not following health and safety policies
- poor infection control and hygiene practices
2 types of neglect in nursing homes
There are two main categories of neglect which solicitors look at when classifying the sort of neglect which has occurred. These are:
- Errors of Commission – these are deliberate acts and contraventions of best practice standards and can include such events as mental, physical or sexual abuse of residents, getting medication wrong, withdrawing treatment completely, or moving and handling residents in the wrong way.
- Errors of Omission – these are quite different. They are not deliberate acts, but cover neglect by failing to do something key such as not giving a resident enough to eat or drink, not assessing a patient properly or writing up a proper care plan, putting the resident at risk by not following risk assessment procedures, failure to prevent pressure sores, not following basic health and safety laws, poor hygiene practices and lapses in infection control procedure.
Proving Nursing Home Neglect
Claims can also be brought against homes looking after vulnerable adults if they have not prevented the residents from being subject to neglect, abuse, abandonment or financial exploitation.
One of the main factors to be considered is whether there were enough staff members working in the nursing home. Not having enough staff to look after the residents has in the past been responsible for in some cases killing residents by leaving them without enough to eat and drink, soiled, or without the medication which they have been prescribed.
Nursing homes may also be found to have failed to complete an assessment of a resident’s needs, or put these into their care plan. As all medical and care staff work from the care document, anything which is missed out can have a very serious effect on a resident’s wellbeing.
Nursing homes have a contractual obligation to their residents to make sure that they are meeting minimum standards of providing a safe environment, giving enough help with daily routines, providing enough trained nursing staff and competent medical care. Not maintaining these standards is clear proof of neglect as well as a breach of contract.
There are several areas of negligence on which a successful claim can be based. The first thing a solicitor will do is to look at the care plan for the resident concerned and see whether it was kept to and whether the care met minimum standards. If not, this is clear evidence that neglect has indeed taken place.
It could also be the case that a nursing home has not properly assessed the care needs of the individual resident or has not taken their needs into account when writing the care plan. Given that the care plan is the key document which all staff should refer to, any mistakes or omissions could have serious consequences for the well being of the resident concerned.
Every case of neglect involving a nursing home is different. Neglect is usually avoidable and when handled by an experienced solicitor, a claim for compensation can usually be made. There is no need for neglect of the most vulnerable members of society should go unchallenged, and remember that every successful claim for neglect should lessen the possibility of it happening to someone else in the future.
Click to find out more about Making a Medical Negligence Claim
Nursing and Care Home Negligence – levels of compensation
Such claims return relatively low payouts in contrast to road death claims or workplace death claims for example
Payouts for pre-death suffering, which can last for months, tend to be four-figure sums. Where the deceased is survived by a husband or wife, their bereavement award tends to form most of the payout.
The compensation payout may be higher in cases where the deceased’s pension was relied upon for the subsistence of a spouse but otherwise, only funeral expenses will add any meaningful sum to the claim. Tragic isn’t it – that life is seen to be so cheap.
Nonetheless, relatives should be aware that is still worth bringing compensation claims in order to secure justice for the mistreatment of loved ones. The law makes it fairly simple to win elder abuse and death claims and awards could be worth up to £20,000.
The Social Importance of Highlighting Elder Abuse
Given these horrendous stories, one may think that there is a great deal of legal activity surrounding elder abuse and death compensation claims however this is far from the case. Compared to other fatal accident claims, such as those in the workplace or on the roads, and other medical negligence claims as well; elder abuse and death claims are rarely made.
Click here to read more about our highly specialist inquest service for fatal accident claims
From a legal perspective, whilst compensation claims for such out and out make are fairly undemanding and usually successful, few care home negligence claims are brought.
However the appalling abuse and unnecessary deaths of the elderly in some of the UK’s care homes and hospitals is finally entering public consciousness as a result of the harrowing reports seen in the media in recent years.
Bringing a compensation claim against a care home or nursing home is important – it adds to the pressure on those care homes and nursing homes who are failing our elderly to a truly shocking extent. Making a successful claim against the nursing home concerned for neglect can help in part to restore a resident’s dignity and their confidence in the nursing home system. Remember, however, young you are, you may well end up in a care home yourself one day.
Don’t delay making your claim
Please be aware that strict time limitation periods apply to all medical compensation claims. So don’t delay getting in touch with 1 of our specialist medical negligence solicitors – or you risk losing the compensation to which you are entitled.