The Republican proposal on health care reform has provisions to limit compensation for non-economic injuries to persons injured or killed as the result of medical malpractice including residents of nursing home who are neglected or abused. Most of my practice over the past 23 years of my 35 year career has been representing nursing home residents. I began thinking of how I would tell clients and/or their families that nursing home neglect and abuse was included in the medical negligence bill proposed. How do I explain that injuries to the elderly, vulnerable members of our society are limited? Here are people who cannot protect themselves, who rely on nursing homes for their safety and well being, and to provide a quality of life that Congress knows what the limit of those injuries are? I thought of all the cases that I have handled involving injuries in nursing homes. The following are actual examples of victims of nursing home neglect and abuse that under the standard proposed by the Republicans would be limited in any award against the nursing home that caused the injuries or death the award.
Mr. A. who had a grapefruit sized vaginal malignant tumor that the nursing home never knew about- death case.
Mr. B. , an Alzheimer patient in a ‘special unit’ who despite no other physical diseases developed multiple state 4 pressure sores, contractures and severe weight loss – death case.
Mr. C., a smoker, who was strapped in a wheelchair and unwatched burned to death when a lighter caught his clothing on fire.
Mrs. D who was overdosed with psychotropic medications to keep her quiet and while trying to escape the torture fell in a bush and lost an eye. After this incident she was moved to a nursing home that properly cared for and weaned her off the psychotropic medications. She was discharged and the last I heard was playing the slot machines in Biloxi. Personal injury case.
Mr. E. who was beaten to death by another nursing home resident who had previously beaten other resident. No precaution was taken to protect any of these residents.
Mr. F. who was demented and known to have a desire to leave the facility and fell from an open window. death case
Mr. G. who went in a nursing home for a 21 days rehabilitation after hip surgery and developed a pressure sore so big on his leg that the leg had to be amputated- personal injury case.
When you look at the data which shows that medical malpractice is a very miniscule part of the cost of health care, you have to ask yourself whether proposed limits are fnecessary for health care reform or fair to the victims.
Civil litigation attorney Billy Cunningham practice concentrates on personal injury, wrongful death, nursing home abuse, business litigation, environmental law and insurance matters. He is licensed to practice in the state and federal courts of Alabama and Mississippi, as well as in the U.S. Court of Military Appeals, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States.