C

C difficile –  Clostridium Difficile is a bacteria in intestines found in healthy and ill people that causes diarrhea and other intestinal disease when competing bacteria are wiped out by antibiotics. For material related to C. Diff in nursing home patients, look here.

Call lights –  Notification system used in nursing homes/hospitals which allows a patient to contact a nurse or other help when needed.

Capacity – Having legal authority or mental ability. Being of sound mind.

Caps on damages – Monetary limitation placed on the recovery an injured party or estate of deceased may recover. To see how damage caps apply in a litigation setting, look here.

Caregiver – Any person who provides assistance to an adult who may be unable to function independently or attend to his or her personal needs and daily living functions.

Care manager – A health care professional who oversees long-term care services for an individual.  While many care managers may have specialized training, a care manager need not have the specialized training to tend to a patients ‘care plan’ which is typically developed by physicians and medical professionals.

Care plan –  Part of nursing practice that provides a written means of planning patient care and discharge planning based upon nursing diagnosis; the plan functions as a means of communicating patient care needs between members of the nursing team to ensure those needs are met; they serve as a means to document changes in patient’s condition, adjustments or additions to nursing diagnosis, as well as patient responses to nursing or medical treatment; care plans enable nurses to provide a holistic approach to patient needs both while hospitalized and after discharge.

Case law – Law established by previous decisions of State Courts, Appellate Courts, Federal Court or the United States Supreme Court.

Catheter – A medical device typically used for patients suffering from incontinence that is inserted into the body and urine is drained into a receptacle bag. Learn how catheter care impacts nursing home patients, here.

Cause of action – The fact or facts which give a person a right to relief in court.

Cellulitis – A spreading bacterial infection of the skin and tissues beneath the skin; usually begins as a small area of tenderness, swelling and redness (accompanied by fever, chills, sweats and swollen lymph nodes near the infected skin).

Cerebral Palsy – Group of non-progressive, non-contagious motor conditions that cause physical disability in human development, chiefly in the various areas of  body movement; the affected area of the brain is the cerebrum (and most likely connections to the cortex and the cerebellum) and palsy refers to movement disorders; a group of permanent disorders of the development of movement and posture, causing activity limitation, that are attributed to nonprogrsseive disturbances that occurred in the developing fetal or infant brain; usually accompanied by disturbances of sensation, perception, cognition, communication and behavior. See some of the issues encountered by nursing home patients with CP here.

Certified nursing assistant – Trained and certified professionals that help nurses by providing non-essential medical assistance to patients.  Examples include: bathing, eating and dressing.

Cervical fracture – “Broken neck”, there are seven cervical vertebrae (neck bones) in the human neck, and the fracture of any can be catastrophic; abnormal movement of bones or pieces of bone can cause spinal cord injury resulting in loss of sensation, paralysis, or death.

Chemical debridement – Uses certain enzymes and other compounds to dissolve necrotic tissue; it is more selective than mechanical debridement. The body makes its own enzyme, collagenase, to break down collagen, one of the major building blocks of the skin.

Choking – Partial or complete obstruction of the airway can be due to a foreign body such as food or liquid. For more information on choking accidents in nursing homes, look here.

Cholecystitis – The inflammation of the gall bladder.

Chronic pain – Pain that lasts longer than 3 months; it is different than acute pain that is not easy to find the cause; there can be debilitating pain with no revealing injury at all; can begin from an injury.

Chronically ill patient – As the name indicates, chronic illness indicates a person who has been unable to provide his or her daily living needs without the assistance of another person for at least 90 days in the past one year period.

Civil action – An action brought to enforce or protect private rights.

Civil law – Law based on a series of written codes or laws.

Civil lawsuit – Law that determines private rights and liabilities, as distinguished from criminal law; usually involve private disputes between persons or organizations; lawsuit based on non-criminal statutes, suck as disputes involving accidents or contracts; typically seek to recover money damages or allow/disallow certain acts, rather than to imprison or punish a person. Look here for information on nursing home lawsuits.

Civil procedure – The rules and process by which a civil case is tried and appealed, including the preparations for trial, the rules of evidence and trial conduct, and the procedure for pursuing appeals.

Claim – A debt owing by a debtor to another person or business. In a personal injury setting, a claim refers to the legal rights of a person who was injured due to the fault of others. In the case of wrongful death, a claim refers to the legal rights of the person’s estate who was killed due to the fault of others.

Class action – A lawsuit brought by one or more persons on behalf of a larger group.

Clear and convincing evidence – Standard of proof commonly used in civil lawsuits and in regulatory agency cases. It governs the amount of proof that must be offered in order for the plaintiff to win the case.

Clerk of Court – Administrator or chief clerical officer of the court.

Clinitron bed – Air fluidized bed combines air fluidized therapy and low air loss therapy on an articulating frame providing patients with relief from bed pressure sores; it is one of the best treatments for pressure ulcers and also has the ability to elevate the head. See additional material on pressure relieving beds here.

Clogged breathing tube –  An obstruction in the airway that was made for a patient that can, within minutes, lead to serious distress, brain injury, and death. See more here.

Clogged feeding tube – A widely accepted preventable condition that commonly results when nursing home staff fail to: clean residue or coagulated protein, inadequate flush of tube after feeding and use improper medications. See more about feeding tube safety here.

Closed head injury – Trauma in which the brain is injured as a result of a blow to the head, or a sudden, violent motion that causes the brain to knock against the skull; nothing actually penetrates the brain. They can be diffuse (they affect cells and tissues throughout the brain) or focal (damage occurs in one area); they can range from mild to severe.

Closing argument – The closing statement, by counsel, to the trier of facts after all parties have concluded their presentation of evidence.

Code of Federal Regulations – An annual publication which contains the cumulative executive agency regulations.

Cognitive impairment – Decline in the ability of an individuals ability to perceive people, places or time that requires the substantial supervision of another person.  The underlying reason behind a cognitive impairment may include: Alzheimer’s, dementia, traumatic brain injury or birth injury.  Evidence of an individuals cognitive impairment can be substantiated by standardized testing or medical examination.

Colostomy – Reversible surgical procedure in which a stoma is formed by drawing the healthy end of the large intestine or colon through an incision in the anterior abdominal wall and suturing it into place; this opening, in conjunction with the attached stoma appliance, provides an alternative channel for feces to leave the body.

Coma – Profound state of unconsciousness; a person in a coma cannot be awakened, fails to respond normally to pain, light, or sound, does not have sleep-wake cycles, and does not take coluntary actions a person in a state of coma can be described as comatose.

Comatose –  A person in a coma state.

Common law – Also case law. Law established by subject matter heard in earlier cases.

Comparative fault – A rule in admiralty law where each vessel involved in a collision is required to pay a share of the total damages in proportion to its percentage of fault.

Comparative negligence – The rule under which negligence is measured by percentage, and damages are diminished in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the person seeking recovery. Example: Jury finds a plaintiff’s conduct to be 20% responsible for his or her injury, the total award will be reduced by 20%.

Complaint – 1. The legal document that usually begins a civil lawsuit. It states the facts and identifies the action the court is asked to take. 2. Formal written charge that a person has committed a criminal offense.

Conservatorship – Legal right given to a person to manage the property and financial affairs of a person deemed incapable of doing that for himself or herself. (See also guardianship.)

Contingency fee –  Any fee for services provided where the fee is only payable if there is a favorable result; in the law is defined as “a fee charged for a lawyer’s services only if the lawsuit is successful or is favorably settled out of court… contingent fees are usually calculated as a percentage of the client’s net recovery”.

Constitution – The fundamental law of a nation or state which establishes the character and basic principles of the government.

Constitutional law – Law set forth in the Constitution of the United States and the state constitutions.

Contempt of court – Willful disobedience of a judge’s command or of an official court order.

Continence – The ability to maintain control of the bowel and bladder.  People who cannot control their bowel or bladder function are generally referred to as incontinent and may require a catheter, colostomy bag or diaper.

Contract – An agreement between two or more persons which creates an obligation to do or not to do a particular thing. A legally enforceable agreement between two or more competent parties made either orally or in writing.

Contributory negligence – The rule of law under which an act or omission of plaintiff is a contributing cause of injury and a bar to recovery.

Corroborating evidence – Supplementary evidence that tends to strengthen or confirm the initial evidence.

Counsel – A legal adviser; a term used to refer to lawyers in a case.

Counterclaim – A claim made by the defendant in a civil lawsuit against the plaintiff. In essence, a counter lawsuit within a lawsuit.

Court – A body in government to which the administration of justice is delegated.

Court costs – The expenses of prosecuting or defending a lawsuit, other than the attorney fees. An amount of money may be awarded to the successful party (and may be recoverable from the losing party) as reimbursement for court costs.

Court rules – Regulations governing practice and procedure in the various courts.

Crainiotomy –  A procedure to remove a lesion in in the brain through an opening in the skull (cranium); type of brain surgery performed, most commonly, for a brain tumor removal; may also be done to remove a blood clot (hematoma), control hemorrhage from a weak, leaking blood vessel (cerebral aneurysm, repair arteriovenous malformations (abnormal connections of blood vessels), to drain a brain abscess, relieve pressure inside the skull, perform a biopsy, or to inspect the brain.

Cross-claim – A pleading which asserts a claim arising out of the same subject action as the original complaint against a co-party, i.e., one co-defendant cross claims against another co-defendant for contribution for any damages assessed against him.

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