Recently, the medical industry has started shifting care for ventilator patients from traditional hospital intensive care units directly into nursing home facilities.
This move is often a cost-effective result that saves insurance companies the high expense of maintaining the patient in a hospital facility. Under the care of nursing home staff, ventilator patients can receive 24/7 around-the-clock care using freestanding ventilator units.
From a purely cost-effective perspective, moving the patient to a nursing home appears to make sense. However, the shift of care from hospitals to nursing homes has come at a high cost to patients’ lives.
Many times, nursing homes have taken the approach of stopping adequate care to ventilator patients who no longer have the capacity to complain or express themselves about their condition. As a result, serious injuries can occur, or even the death of ventilator patients because of the improper action of the nursing care facility.
Often times, nursing home patients that rely on a ventilator are victims of negligence when they develop ventilator-associated pneumonia. Often the result of improper care, this preventable pneumonia can become fatal if not treated properly, or treated at all.
Patients that have a compromised immune system are highly susceptible to severe injury, a high rate of infection, and increased potential of death.
Ventilator-associated pneumonia remains highly resistant to a variety of antibiotics, making it more difficult to fight off. As a result, prevention of developing the ventilator-associated infection appears to be the best protection.
The development of this condition requires extensive sedation to minimize uncomfortable symptoms. As a result, many patients develop a significant drop in their body temperature, and the development of a fever.
Patients on ventilators require constant monitoring. The tubes of the machine can easily become clogged when not properly monitored, and fill up with mucus, preventing the opportunity to breathe. Lack of oxygen through clogged ventilator tubes can lead to extensive brain damage and an increased risk of death.
In addition, it is essential that the nursing home staff continuously monitor the ventilator tubes to ensure they do not become dislodged from the patient. Dislodged tubes can be the result of the patient removing them, or by an accident.
It is essential that the staff take immediate and appropriate corrective measures to minimize any problems with the patient’s breathing. Any lack of supervision and/or failure to properly reinsert the tube could lead to death. Other times, restraint or sedation may be required to minimize the behavior of the patient when they become combative when using the ventilator.
Patient Communication and Rights
Even though the patient is continuously breathing through the ventilator, there is still a potential of developing communication in some way. It is essential that the nursing home staff attempt to facilitate ongoing communication with any patient connected to a ventilator. Often times, the patient uses a pen and paper, blinks, or uses hand gestures as a way to make a communicative connection with others in the room.
Because of the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, all patients in nursing facilities, including those on respirators have the legal right to be continuously treated with dignity and respect. Because of that, it is essential that the nursing home staff provide adequate care in accordance with the state of Illinois and federal statutes. This includes being continuously monitored to ensure that all of the patient’s needs are being met.
Continuous care might involve sedation and pain medication, especially if the patient is displaying extreme pain. Restraint should never be used unless the patient is displaying signs of self-inflicted harm, and only then for the duration of the event. In addition, it is the duty of the nursing home staff to continuously protect the patient from choking.
Sample Nursing Home Ventilator Accident Lawsuits & Settlements
$4.7 Million Settlement for Nursing Home Ventilator Mishap
This lawsuit was filed after a female patient (fifty-seven years old) passed away unexpectantly in an Illinois nursing home. She needed a tracheostomy tube to breath on a day-to-day basis. Apparently, at some point, the tube became dislodged from her throat. In these situations, the nursing home had set up an alarm system to alert staff to the problem so it could be addressed.
That system worked in this incident-the alarm went off-but nobody came to help the resident for over ten minutes. In that interval, the woman had a massive brain injury. She died from the effects of that trauma just a few days later. Her representatives brought a lawsuit against the nursing home for negligence and wrongful death.
They argued that if the facility took reasonable steps to watch over her, then none of this would have happened and she still would have been alive today. Rather than pay for the ordeal of trial, the defendant offered to settle in order to end the matter. The plaintiffs obtained a $4.7 million settlement.
$592,500 Illinois Settlement for Nursing Home Ventilator Accident
The affected resident here had been transferred around various facilities until finally landing in the nursing home where these events occurred. She had a tracheostomy tube placed for breathing after a previous respiratory issue. While at the nursing home, staff were supposed to continuously supervise its usage so that it did not become impaired.
Unfortunately, on the day in question, it became dislodged and she began to lose oxygen. Staff did not realize this or call 911 for assistance. Eventually, she suffered a brain injury and died. Her surviving children and husband sued the nursing home for wrongful death. They illustrated what happened and claimed the defendant facility was responsible for the subsequent death.
The nursing home did not materially deny these allegations. Rather, it highlighted the woman’s extremely poor health and argued that her life expectancy and quality were not reduced as much as the plaintiffs claimed. In the end, this could explain the relatively low settlement amount ($592,500) for a nursing home wrongful death case.
Nursing Home Ventilator Accident Takes Woman’s Life
This case was brought after an elderly woman died in an Illinois nursing home. She had respiratory and other serious medical conditions. These required her to be on a ventilator at all times to breathe and survive.
However, she needed to be transferred between nursing homes for administrative purposes. This demanded that the staff temporarily disconnect and then reconnect her from her breathing tubes in order to move her. When they attempted to do this, they did not reconnect her back onto her ventilator machine fast enough.
She suffered from oxygen deprivation, sustained a massive brain injury, and passed away. Her spouse and adult children survived her. They have sued the nursing home for wrongful death. In their Illinois complaint, they allege the nursing home should have taken better steps to safeguard her health. It did not and they all suffered a great loss because of it. The case seeks compensatory, wrongful death, and similar damages compensation.
$287,500 Illinois Settlement for Nursing Home Ventilator Accident
The nursing home resident mixed up in this incident was just forty-four. She lived in the care facility because she was paralyzed and needed help doing daily activities.
Also, doctors put her on a ventilator machine to assist in breathing. One day, when some of the nursing staff as well as attending doctors were doing an examination in the medical offices, her tubes became dislodged. She began to lose oxygen. They tried reattaching it but were unsuccessful. They rushed her to the emergency room but that was futile.
She died in the hospital. Her representatives brought a lawsuit against the nursing home, hospital, and attending medical professionals. The lawsuit sought compensation for the pain the woman suffered, her untimely and wrongful death, and the medical bills and other costs that arose. The nursing home settled with the plaintiffs for $287,500. They were still left to seek further compensation from the other defendants.
Nursing Home Attorneys Providing Answers For Patients On Vents
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC concentrate in nursing home neglect and abuse in Illinois, with patients on ventilators. Every patient, including those on ventilators, is entitled to the protection of their rights while being cared for in a nursing home.
To understand every legal option, it is essential to speak directly to skilled nursing home attorneys that can carefully evaluate every detail of the claim and ensure that no rights were not violated that resulted in the death of ventilator patient.
Call the law firm at (888) 424-5757 for a no-obligation, free consultation.