Personal Injury & Nursing Home Abuse
Pittsburgh and Western PA

How an Attorney Can Investigate Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

If you believe your loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, then more than anything, you want answers. You have a right to get to the bottom of what happened and who was responsible.

However, negligent nursing facilities don’t make it easy to find out what happened. They’ll make excuses or produce paperwork that doesn’t line up with reality. Too often, they are concerned with protecting their bottom line, not accountability for residents and their families.

That’s where an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney can make a real difference. We understand how to investigate nursing home negligence and find out what really happened to your loved one. Our attorneys will review all the available evidence.

Written records

Nursing homes are responsible for comprehensive care, and they need to keep comprehensive records of the services they provide and coordinate for residents. A careful review of various written records can play an important role in nursing home litigation. Some of the records our attorneys review include:

Administrative records

When a resident arrives in a nursing home, the facility immediately starts keeping records of their stay. Administrative records include everything from the resident’s admission paperwork to the inventory of their belongings, to consent forms and advance directives such as living wills and do not intubate orders. Your attorney can review these records for accuracy and make a note of any discrepancies or gaps in the record, which may indicate something the facility is trying to hide.

Medical records

By definition, nursing home residents receive a great deal of medical treatment, and the facility needs to keep meticulous medical records. Medical records that can be relevant to a nursing home abuse or neglect claim include:

  • Prior hospital records, which can help determine when medical concerns developed or how they progressed.
  • Doctor’s orders, which may address medication, medical treatment, and medical interventions such as restraints.
  • Physician progress notes, which cover the resident’s physicals, medical history, and medical progress while under the care of a doctor or nurse practitioner.
  • Medication administration records, which indicate whether the resident received their medications as prescribed.
  • Skin integrity status records, which include checks for pressure ulcers (bedsores) as well as risk assessments.
  • Therapy records, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, or respiratory therapy. These records should include screenings, progress notes, and for completed therapies, discharge summaries.

One of a nursing home’s most important responsibilities is to make sure each resident’s medical needs are met. That includes administering medication and treatment as prescribed, as well as referring patients to specialists or sending them to the hospital when necessary. Medical records can indicate whether those responsibilities were met, as well as highlight any discrepancies or lapses in care.

Care plans

Care plans are among the most important documents in nursing home abuse and neglect litigation. A resident’s care plan should address any potential concerns about the resident’s health and safety, as well as information on resident-specific interventions, goals, and assessments.

Effective care plans should meet the nursing home’s high standard of care. When the standard of care is not met, the nursing home can be held liable for neglect.

Risk assessments

There are numerous health and safety risks that nursing homes need to manage, including falls, restraints, pain, incontinence, wandering/elopement, dehydration, malnutrition, and choking.

Nursing homes are responsible for conducting risk assessments when medically indicated and following through on any necessary interventions to minimize risk. For example, if a resident is a choking risk, then the facility needs to take appropriate steps to mitigate that risk, such as putting the resident on a soft diet.

Billing and financial records

Nursing homes need to account for the services they actually provide and bill the residents properly for those services. A careful review of the billing records can uncover financial exploitation, such as double-billing or billing for services not rendered. Discrepancies between the financial records and treatment records can also be a warning sign of abuse or neglect.

Witness testimony

While written records are powerful evidence, they are not the be-all, end-all of nursing home claims. Witnesses play a critical role as well. Our attorneys will speak with any individual who has firsthand knowledge of what happened, including other residents, nursing home staff members, visitors, and medical professionals who treated the resident and can speak to their condition.

Interviewing witnesses in the nursing home context raises special challenges. First, there is a level of urgency when it comes to interviewing nursing home residents, who may themselves be in failing health, while they still have the opportunity to tell their stories. Second, nursing home residents may have difficulty remembering or articulating what they saw, and they also may fear retaliation from the facility if they speak up. Unfortunately, it is often necessary to rely on non-residents’ testimony.

Our attorneys have extensive experience investigating nursing home abuse and neglect claims, and we are adept at cross-referencing witness testimony and asking the right questions to get to the bottom of what happened. Our legal team will relentlessly investigate your loved one’s case to pursue the compensation you deserve.

Expert testimony

In the highly specialized environment of a nursing home, unraveling what happened often requires the aid of an expert witness. Experts in nursing home cases may be experienced administrators, nurses, or other medical professionals. They can explain the applicable standards of care and offer an opinion on whether the defendant facility met those standards. They can also analyze records and explain to a jury what the facility should have done given the information that was available to them at the time of the incident.

Our firm has a unique level of insight into this aspect of nursing home litigation. Founding attorney Hal Waldman has himself owned nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and he has even served as an expert witness in nursing home cases. Attorney Waldman not only knows how to find the right experts but also how to weave their testimony together into a compelling story for the compensation and justice your family deserves.

How a nursing home abuse and neglect attorney can help

If your loved one was abused or neglected in a nursing home, the last thing you need is to try to figure out what happened on your own. Sorting through the records is a monumental task, and without the necessary experience and expertise, it’s nearly impossible to get to the bottom of what happened. With an experienced nursing home negligence lawyer on your side, however, you can focus on your family while we sort through the paperwork. We know nursing homes, we know the law, and we can explain your legal rights and options and fiercely advocate for the full compensation you need and deserve.

You trusted the nursing home to take care of your loved one. Now, you deserve answers. Contact Hal Waldman & Associates today for a free consultation. We proudly serve families in Pittsburgh and throughout Western Pennsylvania.

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