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Nursing Home Negligence Leads to Death of 80-Year-Old Resident

In Maryland, negligent care of nursing home residents can have serious financial and legal repercussions. The recent death of an 80-year-old patient who wandered away from a picnic outing sponsored by his nursing home has raised concerns about elder abuse in the state.

Lubin Phipps was a resident of Woodmore House Assisted Living and required constant supervision due to a diagnosis of dementia. On September 18, the residents of the nursing home were taken on an outing to a park, and, despite his need for round-the-clock care, Mr. Phipps was left alone by an operations manager. He was missing for almost a month when his body was finally discovered on October 11.

An investigation by the Office of Healthcare Quality, (OHCQ) revealed that although the center’s employees called 911 after discovering that Mr. Phipps was missing, they failed to report his disappearance to the OHCQ immediately, and instead waited for three days.

Federal Law

Nursing home negligence is regulated under the Nursing Home Reform Act. This federal law sets minimum standards for all nursing homes that accept Medicare and Medicaid. Standards include:

• Individualized evaluations of each patient;

• Sufficient nutrition and hydration;

• Pharmaceutical services;

• Sufficient staffing;

• Nursing and specialized rehabilitative services;

• Routine and emergency dental service;

• Treatment for mental illness; and

• Medically related social services.

Violation of federal regulations can lead to civil penalties, fines, and a government suspension of Medicare and Medicaid certifications.

Maryland Law

Maryland law also prohibits the neglect of nursing home residents. The Office of Healthcare Quality, which is a subdivision of the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene, defines neglect as the failure to provide goods and services necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness. The OHCQ regulates nursing homes to prevent instances of this type of neglect or abuse. Agency regulations include the Residents’ Bill of Rights, which provides additional protections to nursing home residents.

Residents’ Bill of Rights

Under Maryland law, comprehensive care and extended care facilities must ensure that residents have the following rights:

• The right to be treated with consideration, respect, and full recognition of human dignity and individuality;

• The right to receive treatment, care, and services that are adequate, appropriate, and in compliance with relevant state and federal laws, rules, and regulations;

• The right to privacy;

• The right to be free from mental and physical abuse;

• The right to expect and receive appropriate assessment, management, and treatment of pain as an integral component of the patient’s care;

• The right to be free from physical and chemical restraints, except for restraints that a physician authorizes for a clearly indicated medical need;

• The right to receive respect and privacy in a medical care program; and

• The right to manage personal financial affairs.

Furthermore, a copy of the “Resident’s Bill of Rights” must be presented to:

• The resident, upon admission;

• The guardian, next of kin, or sponsoring agent of the resident; and

• A representative payee of the resident.

Each incoming resident must sign a copy of the regulations, and each facility must post a copy in a public place.

Violations can result in heavy fines as well as the forfeiture of the establishment’s license as a nursing home facility.

Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You

If a loved one has been injured as a result of nursing home negligence, an experienced Waldorf personal injury attorney can help explain your legal rights. Please contact the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301)870-1200 to schedule a free consultation.