Plaintiff Wins Appeal of Tennessee Nursing Home Negligence Case Based on Understaffing

Posted in Negligence,Personal Injury on May 21, 2014

Earlier last year, several plaintiffs brought a wrongful death action against a nursing home for the negligent treatment of their mother, who was a patient at the nursing facility. Evidently, the plaintiffs’ mother was suffering with constipation when her physician prescribed an over-the-counter medication to help. However, the staff at the nursing home failed to give the elderly woman her medication as often as the doctor had recommended, which required her to go back to the doctor.

hospital-1385736-mAfter the second doctor’s visit, the doctor prescribed three to four enemas per day to combat the persistent constipation the woman was suffering from. Upon returning to the nursing home, the woman was given one enema that day. The next day she was given none. On the third day she was, again, given a single enema. On that same day, shortly after receiving the enema, the woman died from a perforated colon.

The Trial

The woman’s daughters brought a wrongful death action, naming as defendants the nurse who administered the enema, the nursing home director, and the nursing home’s management company. After a trial, the jury determined that the fault was 30% attributable to the nurse, 20% attributable to the nursing home director, and 50% attributable to the management company. In regard to the management company, the plaintiffs alleged that the nursing home was so understaffed that it led to a situation where the existing staff was unable to properly care for the deceased woman.

On appeal, the management company argued that there was no material evidence suggesting that the woman’s death was caused by understaffing. The court of appeals agreed and reversed the jury’s verdict in favor of the management company.

On Appeal to the State’s Highest Court

The Supreme Court of Tennessee agreed to hear the appeal of the deceased woman’s daughters, who argued that there was indeed material evidence that their mother’s death was related to the nursing home’s low staff levels.

The Court noted that an appellate court can disturb a jury’s verdict “only if there is no material evidence to support the verdict.” Thus, the debate was whether there was any material evidence to support the jury’s finding.

The Court quoted a portion of the nurse’s testimony where she explained that she had told the management company that the facility was understaffed and that patient care was suffering as a result. The Court also found relevant the fact that there had been over 20 other deviations from the standard of care, indicating this was not a one-time occurrence.

Has Your Loved One Been the Victim of Nursing Home Neglect or Abuse?

If you have a loved on in a Tennessee nursing home who you believe has been the victim of nursing home abuse or nursing home neglect, you should contact an experienced Nashville personal injury attorney as soon as possible. It may be that, because of the nursing home’s negligence, your loved one suffered as a result. If this is the case, you or your loved one may be entitled to a substantial monetary award. To find out more, contact attorney Matt Hardin at 615-200-1111 to schedule a free initial consultation today.

See Related Blog Posts:

Teen Killed After Allegedly Falling Asleep Behind the Wheel: The Dangers of Fatigued Driving, Nashville Injury Lawyer’s Blog, published April 27, 2014.

September 2012 Bus Accident Determined To Be an Accident, Nashville Injury Lawyer’s Blog, published May 5, 2014.