A home care-nurse and health care agency in Pennsylvania were found guilty of providing negligent care to a 55-year-old woman who required medical care for her Crohn’s disease. The medical malpractice lawsuit was premised upon the nurse’s failure to report a catheter-related infection to the woman’s doctor. The infection progressed throughout the woman’s body to the point that she required extensive hospital care and amputation of both legs.
Increased popularity of home health care
Perhaps as backlash against traditional nursing home care, the use of home-care nurses and doctors has become more popular today than ever. While the option may be desirable for patients who need assistance with particular types of medical care, home-care providers must remember that many of their patients are especially vulnerable and completely reliant upon them for all aspects of their care.
While there may be geographic distance between the patient’s home and the medical facility, nurses (and other medical staff) still have a duty both to provide the care as ordered by the individual’s physician and to relay the patients condition back to the physician or clinic so that the person’s condition can be monitored.
In the case of this recent verdict against this home-care nurse and agency, I am glad to see that the jury recognized that just because the care was provided in a home-based setting doesn’t mean that these medical professionals should be held to any different standard than if the care had been provided in a nursing home or hospital setting. As with other substantial verdicts, we can only hope that this will cause providers to pause and reevaluate the care they provide to their patients.
For laws related to Pennsylvania nursing homes, look here.
Jury awards Lehighton woman $23 million, September 17, 2011 by Riley Yates The Morning Call
Expanded Home-Based Care for the Impaired Elderly- Solution or Pipe Dream? (.pdf) by BURTON D. DUNLOP, PHD