State ex rel. HCR Manorcare v. Stucky – Nursing Home Negligence Lawsuit Considered

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A large, for-profit nursing home chain with operations in Florida and numerous other states is facing a wrongful death lawsuit in West Virginia amid claims a patient received substandard care resulting in injuries, illness and death.

At issue in State ex rel. HCR Manorcare LLC v. Stucky, before the West Virginia Supreme Court, was whether certain treatment records and board meeting minutes kept by defendants should be released to plaintiffs. The circuit court directed defendants to turn over the records, and defense appealed. State supreme court justices ruled the defense argument regarding treatment records was without merit, but did find the circuit court should have conducted an in camera inspection of the executive “briefing packets” containing board minute meetings and notes should have taken place before those records were released.

In nursing home abuse cases where defendant is a large corporate entity, it is not uncommon for the defense to spend a considerable amount of time in litigation fighting plaintiffs on every possible issue.

Our plaintiff nursing home abuse lawyers have the resources and the dedication to fight back. We understand these cases often cross over into claims of medical negligence as well, which can impact the type of evidence and standard of proof necessary in order to win a personal injury or wrongful death case.

Although the state supreme court record in this case does not go into great detail regarding the underlying allegations, we do know this much: Decedent resided intermittently at the nursing home in question over a four-month period in 2011.

During that time, representatives of decedent’s estate allege, she received substandard care from staffers there. This allegedly resulted in falls, which caused fractures, as well as pneumonia and, ultimately, death.

Falls are extremely common in nursing homes across the country. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports in an average 100-bed facility, there are approximately 200 falls annually. But just because it is common does not mean it’s inevitable. Most of these falls are suffered by patients who can’t walk, meaning there should be contingencies in place to prevent them. Even when procedures are outlined, it doesn’t always mean they are followed – particularly when staffing is inadequate, as is common in for-profit nursing home facilities.

Pneumonia too is another major problem in nursing homes. According to research by the National Center on Biotechnology Information, aspiration pneumonia is one of the top causes of hospitalization and death among nursing home patients. Those who suffer aspiration pneumonia in a nursing home setting have a fatality rate that is three times those who do not.

There are cases in which aspiration pneumonia occurs even with top-notch physical care. People simply get older and their weakened immune systems are unable to handle the slightest infection. However, there are a significant number of these cases that are preventable with appropriate care and mindfulness of staffers.

Aspiration pneumonia is a lung infection that happens after a person inhales liquids, vomit or food into the lungs. If these substances cant be coughed out right away, bacteria begins to form and the resulting infection can be deadly. Those in nursing homes are at higher risk of developing this condition, due to their age but also poor medical care such as inadequate oral care and hygiene or improper placement/maintenance of feeding tubes and ventilators.

If a loved one has died as a result of pneumonia, falls or fractures in a nursing home, consult with an experienced attorney to determine whether you may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at (561) 347-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.

Additional Resources:

State ex rel. HCR Manorcare LLC v. Stucky, June 9, 2015, West Virginia Supreme Court

More Blog Entries:

Florida Medical Malpractice Claims Reduced by Doctor-Patient Communication, June 16, 2015, Boca Raton Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog