Long-Term Care

Tip of the week: Understand the basics of negligence suits

Contemporary Long-Term Care Weekly, February 11, 2010

Negligence is based on a duty – in this case, the nursing facility has to properly and professionally care for its residents. This includes providing them with the proper care, services, medicines, treatments, interventions, therapies, and equipment. Although this is not an exhaustive list by any means, it states that the nursing facility has the preeminent responsibility for servicing the residents it cares for, and these services may encompass all aspects of their lives.

Providing inappropriate services or failing to provide appropriate services can be viewed as a type of negligence. At this point, the law may view this as a breach or violation in the duty that the facility has for taking care of the resident or residents it is servicing.

Negligence suits are based on some harm that has resulted. The burden is on the plaintiff, the person who is bringing charges of negligence, to prove that a level of misfeasance (failure to act) caused harm to the resident. Often, a level of factual causation has to be demonstrated, which shows that the resident would not have been harmed “but for” the actions of the facility. Also, proximate cause has to be demonstrated, based on something that is “reasonably foreseeable,” which connects the harmful event to an act of negligence.

This is an excerpt from HCPro’s book, The Long-Term Care Administrator’s Field Guide, by Brian Garavaglia, PhD.

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