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Acute care – A high level of care provided to a patient for a medical condition or illness that a patient is likely to recover from.  Once a patient recovers from the illness or injury, they will not need assistance of an acute care facility.  In cases of people 65 and older, acute care is considered a Medicare benefit.

Administrative agencies – Agencies created by the legislative branch of government to administer laws pertaining to specific areas such as taxes, transportation, and labor.

Admissible evidence – Evidence that can be legally and properly introduced in a civil or criminal trial.

Adult day care – Similar to day care facilities for children, ‘adult day care‘ facilities provide assistance for cognitively or physically challenged adults who may may not be able to care for themselves during the day.  Adult day care is a broad term that may apply to private-home-based care or community centers that are staffed by trained care providers to meet the needs of the older adults-  meals, therapeutic, health, social and even specialized programs for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia.  Usually adult day care facilities are open during normal business hours and most seniors have another type of caregiver when not in the program.

Advance directive for health care – A written document that describes how and what type of medical decisions you would like to be made for you if you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself.  In some circumstances a health care surrogate can be appointed to make decisions should an incapacity arise.  Examples of an advance directive for health care includes: Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Will or Durable Power of Attorney. Read more about these tools here.

Advanced bedsore – Stage 4 Bedsore or unstageable bedsore: Full thickness skin loss with extensive destruction, tissue death, and/or damage to muscle, bone, or supporting structures (tendon, joint, capsule). They will look like a large, deep, open wound revealing bone and connective tissue. (Warning, a stage four bedsore is extremely disturbing to see). See more discussion of bed sores here.

Adverse drug side effects –  A harmful and undesired effect resulting from a medication or other intervention such as surgery. It is secondary to a main or therapeutic effect, and may result from an unsuitable or incorrect dosage or procedure, which could be due to medical error. These effects are generated by a physician/treatment. Some adverse effects only occur when starting, increasing or discontinuing a treatment. Adverse effects may cause medical complications of a disease or procedure and negatively affect its prognosis.

Affirmative defense – A defense raised in a responsive pleading (answer) relating a new matter as a defense to the complaint; affirmative defenses might include contributory negligence or estopped in civil actions; in criminal cases insanity, duress, or self-defense might be used.

Agranulocytosis – Failure of the bone marrow to make enough white blood cells. Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside bones that helps form blood cells.

Air embolism – (Gas embolism) is a pathological condition caused by gas bubbles in a vascular system. Most common is in the human body where gas bubbles are in the bloodstream.

Albumin – Refers generally to any protein with water solubility, which is moderately soluble in concentrated salt solutions, and experiences heat coagulation (protein denaturation); egg whites contain albumin.

Alzheimer’s disease – A degenerative disease that results in cognitive impairment and brain functioning.  Alzheimer’s patients may originally demonstrate problems with short-term memory.  Over time, more noted problems with language skills, reasoning and overall cognitive ability may develop.  Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s.

Amputation – The removal of a body extremity by trauma or surgery. For discussion of amputation related to pressure sores, look here.

Amyloidosis – A disease that occurs when substances called amyloid proteins build up in organs. Amyloid is an abnormal protein usually produced by cells in bone marrow that can be deposited in any tissue or organ.

Anemia – A medical condition in which the red blood cell count (hemoglobin) is less than normal.

Appellate court – A court having jurisdiction to hear appeals and review a trial court’s procedure.

Appendicitis –  An inflammation of the appendix (a small pouch attached to the beginning of the large intestine).

Arbitration – The hearing of a dispute by an impartial third person or persons (chosen by the parties), whose award the parties agree to accept.

Arbitration Agreements – Predominately in cases involving nursing home negligence, arbitration agreements stipulate that cause of action against a nursing home for personal injuries or wrongful death is to be resolved via private arbitration as opposed to a jury trial. Some state courts have recently held such agreements unconstitutional.

Asphyxiation – The condition of being deprived of oxygen (breathing stopped); suffocation. For information on suffocation related to bed rail entrapment, look here.

Aspiration – The taking of foreign matter into the lungs with the respiratory current.

Aspiration pneumonia –  An inflammation of the lungs and airways to the lungs (bronchial tubes) from breathing foreign material. Symptoms include bluish discoloration of the skin (from lack of oxygen), chest pain,  cough with foul-smelling phlegm, phlegm with pus or blood, greenish sputum, fatigue, fever, shortness of breath, wheezing, breath odor, excessive sweating, swallowing difficulty. Look here, for additional information.

Assisted Living Facility – A living arrangement that provides assistance with meals, housekeeping, transportation and personal care for people who may no longer be able to tend to their daily living needs. Assisted living facilities (ALF’s) vary greatly in terms of the services they provide and the level of assistance offered to residents.  Unlike nursing homes, assisted living facilities do not provided skilled nursing care.  Rather, when a person required skilled medical care, they should be transferred to a nursing home, hospital or more appropriate care facility.

Autonomic dysreflexia –  Also known as “AD” or “autonomic hyperreflexia” is a condition characterized by a massive sympathetic discharge that can occur in association with spinal cord injury or disease (e.g. multiple sclerosis). AD is considered a medical emergency.

Autolytic debridement –  For bed sore patients, autolysis uses the body’s own enzymes and moisture to re-hydrate, soften and finally liquefy hard eschar and slough; this is a selective process – only necrotic tissue is liquefied and is virtually painless to the patient. This can be achieved with the use of occlusive or semi-occlusive dressings which maintain wound fluid in contact with the necrotic tissue. Here’s an article discussion debridement in  more detail.

Autonomic nervous system – Part of the peripheral nervous system that acts as a control system functioning largely below the level of consciousness, and controls visceral functions (heart rate, salivation, perspiration, diameter of the pupils, micturition – urination,  and sexual arousal.

Autopsy – An examination of a body after death to determine the cause of death or the character and extent of changes produced by disease.

Client Reviews

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Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial. Lisa
★★★★★
After I read Jonathan’s Nursing Home Blog, I decided to hire him to look into my wife’s treatment at a local nursing home. Jonathan did a great job explaining the process and the laws that apply to nursing homes. I immediately felt at ease and was glad to have him on my side. Though the lawsuit process was at times frustrating, Jonathan reassured me, particularly at my deposition. I really felt like Jonathan cared about my wife’s best interests, and I think that came across to the lawyers for the nursing home. Eric