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Understaffed Nursing Home Leads To Patient's Death

A jury recently returned a verdict for almost $3 million in a case where a nursing home resident died because the nursing home where she was staying failed to provide her with the proper care.

The patient suffered from cancer, and she had entered the nursing home for a few weeks to rehabilitate after a series of radiation treatments. The treatments had gone well, and her doctors told her that she was cancer-free and should live for a number of years. However, the patient died less than a week later.

The evidence in the case showed that, despite repeated warnings from its own employees, the nursing home was chronically understaffed, and that what staff it did have had not been properly trained. As a result, the staff members did not regularly clear the tracheotomy tube through which the patient breathed, despite the complaints of both the patient and her daughter that the patient was having trouble breathing. Eventually, the tube became blocked and, despite being taken to the hospital, the patient died two days later.

Immediately before the trial began, the nursing home admitted that it was understaffed and that it did not have the proper emergency equipment on hand, which prevented the patient's family from presenting evidence showing the jury just how flagrant the problem was. The jury did hear the nursing home's argument that the patient's life was worth little since she had cancer and would not live long, and that the quality of her remaining time would be low. The jury disagreed and returned a multimillion-dollar verdict that should make nursing homes even more aware of the need to have enough trained staff at their facilities.

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