Have any of you lost a loved one and felt their death was the fault of the nursing home?

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What did you do? What should you do?
My mother died of "Blunt Force Trauma" to the head almost a year ago, which caused 3 brain hemorrhages. She was supposedly found on the floor but her nurse had no idea what had happened, nor did she. She was bruised on the forehead/temporal region, a bump on the back of her head, a shoulder bruise, a possible chipped tooth.

I was not informed until the following day, then told it was a tiny bump and specifically told numerous times, NOT TO COME TO THE NURSING HOME, because she was FINE! She was placed back in bed and an ice pack applied to the bruise and given the nurses call button in case she needed help....she did not know how to use the call button on a good day!

About 12 hours later and several phone calls to me, they decided to send her to the hospital ER because her INR showed her blood was too thin and at 5 rather than 2-3. Again we were told NOT TO COME TO THE NURSING HOME AND NOT TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL OVER AND OVER.

I said BS, called my two sisters and met her at ER only to find my mother with a huge purple and blue bruise on her forehead, unable to open her eyes or talk, but moaning in pain. The head of nursing at the home told us they had performed xrays on her head and chest and she was fine, no problems at all.... the hospital did xrays and found 3 brain bleeds, pneumonia and MRSA not to mention they said she had broken ribs.

No one at the home KNEW WHAT HAPPENED but assumed it was a fall where she had rolled out of bed falling 15 inches and landed on a rubber mat they use as protection.

Stories changed about 4 times and we knew what they were telling us was not true, however everyone was keeping their mouth closed. When my mother died 8 days later, nothing happened. There was no investigation or checking on Mom's accident it was just accepted. When we left the hospital that night we felt numb and hallow inside. We are still trying to figure out how to go on from here as she left a very big hole.

What have you done or what would you do?

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Stressed, i don't believe that any judgement from any court is going to resolve your complex feelings. I do believe that your feeling of emptiness can be ameliorated with some therapy and perhaps medication. Please don't wait any longer to get this underway. You've been through the wringer and need and deserve aome relief.
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Thank you for your replies. I have not gone to a grief counselor nor has anyone in the family. I have seen a therapist for years for panic and anxiety. We lost my father in 2006 and he was a funny wonderful man, friend and father. When he died I was as okay as I guess you can be, other than I stopped seeing color for some time, everything literally went to black and white. Mom was still here and needing more assistance as time went on so nothing incredibly traumatic happened other than we missed him and his ability to make us laugh.

With Mom it is different as it seems life has stopped or we are waiting for her to come home....it is very odd to say the least. I had taken care of Mom for 8 years and became her POA to protect her from an older sister who I felt would throw her into a nursing home and walk away. I became sick with severe panic and anxiety in April and was told by two doctors in the hospital that I could NOT return home and continue to care for Mom. If I did, I would have a heart attack or stroke.

I had been the caregiver for 8 years with no help from either sibling, but one lived with us and never lifted a finger, she pushed me continuously and basically treated me as though I were a slave rather than her sister....this is who I had to walk away and leave my mother with.....guilt.

An in home caregiver was hired and my sister watched mom at night. Within a short time she could not handle the situation so she have mom placed in a psych facility and then transferred to the nursing home.....A place I swore to my mother that I would never place her.....guilt. She was there 18 days and sustained injuries that led to her death 8 days later...as I stroked her hair.

I was on Zoloft so I could handle everything easily, however I spent 3 days vomiting and missed Mom's funeral. Now I wonder if it was food poisoning or nerves and guilt.

I began to fight for Mom because she had been injured severely in this nursing home and who did do it???? Her nurse or perhaps another patient...who knows? What was clear was that she was horribly injured and just placed back into bed with an ice pak and a nurse call button, no actual medical help was given to her for about 12 to 16 hours and yes the hospital believed that had she received medical attention immediately they would have caught the fact that her coumadin was out of range and begun the vitamin K and fresh frozen plasma and stopped the hemorrhages.

A forensic specialist went through the records and said, yes Mom was horribly injured and no it was not from rolling out of bed and yes the nursing home was negligent in her care both before and after the fall, but they covered up the true facts and someone actually got away with what amounts to murder.

We knew this within our hearts from the beginning. We began to search the records from everyone, we were just heartsick over what we read and what appeared as being possibly falsified information.

What kills you is not just the fact that you have lost your loved one, but that it was violent and she was left in the floor not knowing what had happened. Then it gets worse because the hospital falls in line with what the nursing home has given them as facts but you know or feel it is not true. You are at the hospital 24 hours a day and when they pass away they allow you to say goodbye and then leave. You however are standing there asking yourself, "What the he-- just happened here?" She was old so hey no big deal, it was time for her to go, right? But someone hurt her, we were lied to, where is the police or who do you call and what do you do? Does her life just end so unceremoniously and NO ONE ever questions it?

You ask for an autopsy and they decide NOT to perform one other than to say the obvious,,,she died of "blunt force trauma to the head" and secondary "3 brain hemorrhages." And they assume there was no foul play, but numerous medical staff at the hospital all told us, to follow this up because she did not get these kind of injuries from rolling out of bed!

It just seems that there is no one watching what happens to the elderly in these homes and no one really cares. If she had died of these injuries at home, I am fairly sure we would have been investigated. The coroner even wrote on her sheet that he thought she had died at home and therefore she needed to be examined for elder abuse, but when he found out she was injured in a home he dropped the exam for abuse.

My mother's case is going to court, we signed the papers yesterday. We all thought we would feel better but we feel "let down or hollow inside." Nothing will ever bring our Mom back to us, we know that, but where does one go from here, I needed another persons perspective.
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If you want to file a legal action ACT FAST. Most states have a Statute of Limitations on wrongful death claims. It could be as little as one year, so I would see an attorney immediately. Get legal advice so you know your options.
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Stressed52, I am adding your post from September about this sad situation to help give more background information. https://www.agingcare.com/questions/mom-died-can-nursing-home-be-sued-172230.htm
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I wasn't able to find your previous post but Babalou makes good suggestions, as do others who recommend counseling. If you are going to file a lawsuit, there is a statute of limitations by which you must file or lose the opportunity to do so.

Based solely on your post, it certainly appears as though there someone is at fault for your mother's death, but it could also have been another patient who the nursing home couldn't identify. I can't imagine trying to find peace under those circumstances. I too would be angry.

Try to put this in a less emotional perspective so that you can decide what to do:

1. What does the death certificate show as a cause of death? And who signed it? Was it someone at the hospital or the nursing home? Did the hospital contact the police? If not, why not? Did anyone at the hospital discuss the issue of the blunt force trauma?

2. Do you have the medical records, and if so:

(a) Has an attorney and his/her medical consultants reviewed them to determine if malpractice has been committed?

(b) If so, what are the nonemotional factors that would influence your decision to sue?

(c) if not, then there is no case and an attorney worth his/her mettle would not undertake a lawsuit. Attorneys need to have an expert witness to corroborate allegations of medical malpractice and/or negligence.

What I would do is consider grief counseling to allow you to move toward with enough objectivity that you can make a determination whether to sue, based on the above factors. If there was no malpractice, I would still get grief counseling as it can help since there are obviously some traumas left unresolved.

If your mother did die of natural causes, try to focus on that and not on the issue of suing. If she didn't die of natural causes, you and the family need to achieve enough objectivity to make a decision what to do.

I do understand that anyone's death is traumatic, and when an institution is involved, it's easy to wonder if there was some negligence that lead to the death. That was the first thing I thought of when my mother died.

My sister (a psychiatric nurse) and I discussed the situation, and agreed that even had there been some less than stellar activity by the nursing home (delays in toileting, etc), it didn't rise to the level of malpractice.

In an older person, there is also the issue of longevity. Actuarial tables are used to estimate a man or woman's average lifetime; medical conditions are factored in and unfortunately and sadly, older people aren't considered to have lost as much since they're closer to death anyway. That sounds callous; in many ways it is, but it's also an attempt to address malpractice issues in terms that are standard across the board.

That doesn't in any way lessen your loss, though.


Lawsuits don't necessarily drag on for a long time. And there's a political motive for that as well: judges can use good docket management and case resolution statistics in their campaigns.

In Michigan, at least, courts have instituted intermediary requirements that can keep lawsuits moving on scheduled timetables. What normally could drag out lawsuits is the discovery period, when parties file pleadings back and forth to get more information, and sometimes to harass the opposite party.

Mediations are also scheduled by the court; if the issues aren't resolved, the case can move to a jury or nonjury trial, again, by schedule.


What you can do if there was negligence by the nursing home, and supported by an independent medical review in conjunction with consideration of filing suit, is to contact the governing agencies and file complaints against the nursing home and its administration, as was also suggested in the posts above.

Contact nursing home ombudspeople and report the incident; the ones with whom I've deatl are very sincere and helpful people; they may have some suggestions.

Also contact Medicare and report your complaints. Medicare maintains a list of nursing homes with rankings; it may do another investigation and find that the practices of care at that facility do not meet standards.

And reread Babalou's second post; it has some very insightful, helpful and useful information.


Along the line of remedies and banishment of any guilt you might feel (which I know from experience can be very, very significant and emotionally crippling), ask yourself which remedies would:

(a) give you a sense of relief and/or

(b) ensure that any negligence by the nursing home is addressed to avoid further situations such as your mother experienced?

Which are likely to be the most successful in achieving your goals?


I can't even begin to imagine the anxiety and stress that a situation such as you described has caused. I do hope that getting some assistance in grief counseling will help you move forward toward a grieving process that doesn't include the legal and malpractice issues, and that eventually gives you more peace than you have now. You are entitled to answers as well as not being plagued by second guessing and/or anger because of events which shouldn't have happened the way they did.

I wish you and your family peace as you grieve for your mother and face some difficult decisions.
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Just to correct any misapprehension; I wouldn't avoid a lawsuit. I don't think that not bringing a lawsuit will help with the "closure". I just think that if you are feeling paralyzed, that therapy will help.
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I sense what you are really are seeking is answers and it is possible that being compelled under oath to speak may help you to get them. How did she sustain her injuries and why did trained staff fail to see their severity? An acknowledgement that something went terribly wrong and steps are being taken to ensure it doesn't happen again is really not too much to ask for. On the surface it certainly looks as though someone is covering their own a**.

On the other hand Baba makes some valid points. Legal action would probably drag on for a very long time and serve to keep your grief fresh and hinder your ability to heal and move on. Therapy may be worthwhile no matter which course you decide to take.
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"The correct thing" being to sue? As long as there are no upfront costs to bring suit for your mother's injuries, then certainly. But I would also contact the joint commission on nh accreditation in your state and file a complaint.

There's more than one thing going on here. There is grief. Your mom passed away, having lived a good long life and then contracting a terrible, fatal disease. And she died. If it were just that, perhaps you would be able to grieve, celebrate her life and live yours.

But you also seem to be feeling guilt. For putting her in a care facility? It's very, very difficult to care for an elderly, frail dementia patient at home. You cannot blame yourself for needing outside care.

But there's also anger, at the caregivers and the home. They messed up they thought that her injuries were minor and they were not. But here's the thing. Would getting her to the hospital sooner made a difference? Would there have been treatment that could have reversed the effects of the brain bleed?

I'm not saying that you should not be feeling any of these emotions. But if you are unable to live your day to day life without some joy and productivity, you should seek out a therapist or counselor who has experience with unresolved grief and ptsd. I'm NOT saying that you should "move on" or "get over it". I'm simply saying that you owe it to yourself to seek out some relief; your mom would want you to.
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Yes, but it is a hallow victory to know your thoughts are correct. We are still sitting here like zombies because we do not know if what we are contemplating is the correct thing to do or what else should we have done. I would like to know what others have done that have faced the same issues.
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Stressed, at the time, i believe we all suggested that you consult a lawyer and immediately secure the medical records from the NH. Have you done that?
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