Failure Of Oversight For Patient Health And Safety Leads To Loss

The owners of a Missouri nursing home reached a settlement in a wrongful death claim filed against them by the family of a resident who died at the facility.

According to the family, staff at the nursing home brought the wheelchair-bound man outside, and then left him there for hours in the hot August temperatures. When someone eventually returned, they found him lying on the ground, deceased.

The nursing home is now under new management, but is still listed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as a facility requiring stricter oversight. Linda Wagar "Family settles with Liberty nursing home after man found dead outside" (Jan. 25, 2024).


Commentary and Checklist


In a wrongful death lawsuit, a plaintiff must show that the defendant had a duty to provide reasonable care for the patient, and that negligent, careless, or reckless actions were the proximate cause of the death of the patient. Surviving family members can seek damages for wrongful death, and the individuals responsible for safe care can face civil and criminal charges.

Although there are no details clarifying why the resident in the above case was brought outside and left unsupervised, it is evident that oversight procedures either did not exist or that staff did not follow them.

What steps can nursing homes take to help prevent negligent injuries or death of residents?

·      Make sure your facility is fully staffed at all times.

·      Do not give staff members more work than they can realistically perform.

·      Conduct a thorough background check on all new hires.

·      Never hire a caregiver with a history of committing abuse or neglect.

·      Provide thorough training to all staff members on how to properly care for residents and ways to reduce the risk of neglect.

·      Supervise all staff members to make sure they are following policies and procedures. 

·      Make sure residents have call buttons attached to them or available at all times.

·      Have video surveillance in common areas, inside and out, and monitor patients with them.


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