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Mom died in October of 2013. She was in nursing home for 4 months. They oversedated her and after a discussion with the staff in a meeting we had called due to all the drugs, they were supposed to take her back to baseline. They never did that and then they sent her to detox in a psych ward and she got pneumonia and gave up and died. One of the visiting psych people also told me mom was being abused by her roomate and all of the sudden she was removed from mom's care and replaced with this person whom I say killed my mom. Should I sue or should I let this go? A gentleman told me this happened to his wife as well on the 1st day we took mom to the nursing home. His wife also passed. I am torn as to what to do but something keeps knawing at me to do something. I am confused. Any advice would be helpful to help me make a decision one way or the other. I know it won't bring her back but maybe I can make a difference for someone else's family.

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SUE - I think that is the only way Nursing homes are ever going to improve. Hopefully you did not sign an Arbitration agreement when your family member was admitted. That document can bind you to an arbitration hearing i.e. no jury trial & it could also cap the amt of settlement money you can get even if you win your case. In some states you legally do not have to sign this agreement and the nursing home cannot require you to in order for a family member to be admitted.
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Pam's advice is spot on.

Hearsay from other patients is not really evidence. And it's also based on the opinions of others who may or may not have a medical/legal perspective.

The best way to determine whether suit is appropriate is to contact a medical malpractice attorney. Without challenging anyone else's advice, a personal injury attorney does not normally deal in med/mal cases, which have different standards and require medical professional(s) to review the records and confirm any neglect or wrongdoing.

And yes, I speak from experience, having worked for both plaintiff and defense medmal firms.

A med/mal attorney would, if he/she thought there is a case,likely first order the nursing home records and have them reviewed either by a nurse practitioner (some of which are on staff at med/mal law firms) or a physician with a specialty in the specific area of neglect, and who could potentially also act as the medical expert.

Neglect requires breach of the standard of care in the locality, so there would have to be evidence that the standard of care for someone with your mother's condition and at a SNF was in fact not followed in order for neglect to be found.

The other complicating factor is the actual loss. Based on her age, the SNF (through its attorneys) could argue that your mother's time was limited, that she was too old to work so there's no loss of income, and that her death was inevitable.

This is also a good reason to find a med/mal attorney who specializes in nursing home abuse and neglect.

There are ombuds/organizations in SE Michigan which can offer insight into various nursing homes (such as one where there is a higher than expected death rate for patients. You might research your are to see if there are any locally, and contact (one of) them, for your peace of mind, to determine whether or not there's a history of neglect or abuse at that particular nursing home.

This is a difficult situation; I think I would feel the need to get at the bottom of the situation to find out what really happened, but there's the opposite issue of the stress that a lawsuit could create after already having just lost your mother. It would prevent you from having closure.

That's why I would recommend consulting a nursing home med/mal attorney as well as filing the complaints Pam suggested. If the attorney tells you there's no case, then you have it literally from the horse's mouth.

Good luck. I hope you're able to find some peace during the process of exploring your options.
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so if I have an engine with 350 thousand miles on it and a mechanic throws patches at it as best he can, I don't think ill sue him when a connecting rod comes thru the hood.
the cause of death on the death certificate speaks volumes..
the only thing you could have done differently would have been to frequent the home at odd hours and let the staff know that you were a force to contend with.
I say let it go and let yourself heal..
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You can also file a complaint with the state agency that licenses the nursing home (they should have both a federal and a state license/registration). If staff knew or suspected that a patient's roommate was abusing other patients, they should have taken action.
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If you said you were complaining about nurses, you would have met with nursing staff or maybe even and Ombudsman. The Ombudsman will meet with both sides separately and formulate a solution. They do not want the meeting to turn into an ugly confrontation. The doctors are always in charge, all the way to the top. Nurses and aides just follow the orders of the MD.
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I just contacted the joint commission today. If the doctor was in charge why was no one representing him in that meeting with all of us?
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There had to be an MD in charge of the "psych people". They don't change meds willy-nilly, and psychotropics are highly controlled meds. What did the joint commission state in their findings?
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I did file a complaint with the joint commission. The doctor did not do her anxiety meds. The psych people did as they were the ones who called me to tell me they were changing them. The doctor was never at the meeting we called with the staff.
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It wouldn't be the NH that over medicated her. Those orders had to come from her doctor.
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anonymous, they are forbidden by law to discuss an employee's record with you, confidentiality laws are at work there. Just like HIPAA. The ladies don't change the meds, they just give what the doctor has ordered. Nor do they do the commitment under 302. They fill out the form and the county mental health dept determines whether the patient is a danger to themselves or others.
AGAIN I will tell you to go to jointcommission.org if you wish to file a complaint, and you want a thorough, independent examination.
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It just seems like things never were right. You know in your gut that something is wrong and that's why we called the meeting. I want to know why the first lady was let go after she told me all the things my mom told her about being waken up in the middle of the night. My mom was fine the first couple weeks then she was always scared and wanted to leave every time we visited. The lady that was her first psych person said this person who had apparently been abusing my mom had done it before and then poof she was not on mom's case anymore. Also the second lady who was changing moms meds every other day never once acknowledged us after she 302'd mom and never offered any condolences when she passed. Very weird for someone who clamined to be so concerned for my mom.
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No, I would not sue. If you want to make a difference, file a detailed complaint with the Joint Commission. Anything hearsay will not carry a lot of weight. Go to jointcommission.org and start the complaint process and ask for a full investigation.
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I would wonder (based on what you wrote) if there's an "angel of death" in that nursing home. There was one in Indiana (Orville Lynn Majors) who may have killed as many as 130 people over a period of years.

I'm not sure if you feel your mom was purposefully over-sedated or not. I'm not clear on why she was never brought back to baseline. I'd talk to the person who thought their wife was also killed to find out if the same nursing individual was involved. If that's the case, I'd consider filing a police report.

Unfortunately a lot of nursing homes (and hospitals) try to cover up their problems instead of fixing them. I have no idea if that's going on here...but it's worth a consideration. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this...
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I'm so sorry for what your family has had to go through. It's awful when our elderly parents are unable to advocate for themselves.

I'm sure you will get a lot of responses that say "SUE THE B*STARDS!!" and these are emotional responses. As I read what you wrote I was picturing my beloved father in such a situation and how I'd feel.

Contact a lawyer who deals in personal injury lawsuits. These kinds of lawyers won't require a retainer and "don't get paid until you get paid!" (we've all seen the commercials). Run your info by them and see what they say. It won't hurt to look into it.

In my opinion, as necessary as they are, most if not all NH's are guilty of negligence at one time or another. It's the nature of the beast. Too many patients, too few staff. It may not be deliberate but when there's 1 staff member and 9 residents someone's going to twist in the wind each shift.
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