According to a Tennessee jury, the answer to the above question is a resounding ‘yes’! Evidence was presented to the jury regarding the circumstances that led up to the death of a resident at Celebration Way, a Tennessee assisted living facility in 2004 due to an intestinal obstruction and sepsis.
Among the claims presented by the family of the deceased was that the facility was so understaffed that they could not provide adequate care for the woman. This claim was substantiated at the trial against the facility when it was demonstrated that despite orders for 60 doses of MiraLax, a laxative, the facility administered just 16 doses in the months leading up to the woman’s death.
After a two week trial, the jury awarded substantial damages to the woman’s family against: the administrator of the facility, director of nursing, Americare Systems, Inc., Shelbyville Residential LLC and Celebration Way.
Read more about this wrongful death lawsuit against an assisted living facility here.
Understaffed Nursing Homes
As lawyers who tend to see the results of things gone bad, I can attest to the problems under-staffing results in. In some situations, staff are responsible for caring for more than 30 patients per day. When the stresses put on nurses reach this level it is essentially impossible for them to adequately perform their job.
Corners begin to get cut. Not necessarily out of maliciousness or laziness– but because there simply is not enough time in the day to perform the tasks they are responsible for. The end result is that patients to not get the care they require and consequently get neglected or hurt.
In most situations, I point blame at the management who make a conscious decision everyday to strip staffing levels to the bare-bones in order to maximize the profitability of their facilities. Hopefully, when courageous juries, like the one above, start sending messages in the form of large verdicts, operators will begin to change the way they do business.