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Mother settles lawsuit with nursing home over daughter's death

Choosing to put a loved one in a nursing home can be a difficult decision for Fayetteville families to make, and learning to trust a facility and its staff to take care of a loved one may take some time. Although many facilities prove to provide nursing home patients with the proper treatment they need, there are also many instances of negligence and abuse that occur each year at nursing homes in North Carolina and throughout the entire country.

Nursing home negligence and abuse should never occur, but when it does, the effects can be devastating. A patient could die after receiving the wrong medication or suffer further health complications after falling on a wet floor. Patients could suffer emotionally after being sexually abused by a nurse or another resident. And poor training could potentially cause staff to make simple mistakes that could lead to serious injury or death.

A tragic nursing home negligence case that was recently settled involved the death of a resident after a caregiver failed to puree the victim's food. A jury concluded that the victim's mother should be compensated $1.5 million for damages.

The patient died in 2009 after she choked on her food at a nursing home in Wisconsin. According to the lawsuit, poor weather prevented all but one of the caregivers who were scheduled to work from arriving at the nursing home on time in February 2009. As a result, only one caregiver was at the facility to care for six patients who were all severely disabled.

When it came time to feed one of the patients, a 56-year-old woman who was blind and unable to swallow food well, the caregiver failed to puree the patient's food. The patient ended up choking on her food and died a week later after suffering brain damage from the incident.

A jury recently reached a verdict in the case, awarding the victim's mother $1.5 million. The compensation is to cover medical expenses, funeral expenses, pain and suffering, loss of companionship and punitive damages.

Although the incident is certainly tragic and no amount of money can ever replace the life a loved one, these types of cases do help to raise awareness that nursing home negligence and abuse does occur and that patients' lives are put at risk when facilities fail to train staff or fail to provide a safe environment for residents.

Source: Today's TMJ4, "Germantown nursing home lawsuit is settled," Michele Fiore, Jan. 7, 2012

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