The topic of elderly care is an emotional one for residents and their families, but it can become a business conversation for the nursing home administrators. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 95 percent of residents who live in elderly care facilities indicated they had been the victim of abuse, or they had seen abuse take place. It is estimated that elderly people who experience abuse in a nursing home are 300 percent more likely to die because of that abuse.
Those numbers are frightening, especially for families who entrust their loved ones to skilled nursing facilities. Patient neglect is a huge problem in nursing homes around the country, and the only recourse families seem to have for getting things changed is to use neglect lawsuits. But even settlements of $500,000 can be written off by large nursing home corporations as a small loss. That is why one family decided to hit a negligent nursing home chain where it really hurt; in the bottom line.
The Doris Cote Lawsuit
Doris Cote was an elderly nursing home resident who had taken up residency at a Five Star Quality Care facility in Arizona. Six months after Ms. Cote checked into the nursing home, she died of a serious infection brought about by bed sores. The company claims that Ms. Cote had the bed sores when she checked in to the facility and that she died of natural causes. But when the facts were presented to a jury, the story was very different.
The lawyers for the Cote family presented evidence of patient neglect that included starvation and ignoring the development of bed sores. When those sores developed into a serious infection, the elderly care facility made almost no attempt to remedy the situation. After the Cote’s presented their case, Five Star Quality Care offered a settlement of $500,000. But the Cote’s knew that a settlement like that would not create real change. They decided to press forward, and the result was a $19 million dollar judgment in the family’s favor.
The Impact Of The Verdict
If the Cote’s had taken the settlement, then there may have been some surface changes made at Five Star Quality Care facilities to pacify the media. But the reality would have been that patient neglect would still occur, and more residents would die. By following through with their lawsuit and getting a large award, the Cote’s forced Five Star Quality Care to make real changes to improve the level of elderly care in their facilities.
In some cases, neglect lawsuits need to have large awards attached to them if there is going to be real change. It is estimated that 20 percent of the American population will be thinking about residing in nursing homes by 2050. If those residents are going to be safe, then real changes have to take place now with the organizations known for patient neglect.
If you have an elderly loved one who is the victim of abuse in a nursing home, then it is time to take action. If you do nothing, then your loved one and all of the other residents in that elderly care facility face a significantly increased risk of death due to neglect. But if you can prove your case and get a substantial award, then you can create real change in a system that is growing rapidly but very badly broken.