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Elderly patient dies following possible nursing home neglect

New Jersey residents may be familiar with the more serious cases of nursing home negligence, and even outright abuse that attract national media attention. However, those who live in New Jersey and have a loved one in a nursing home need to remember that nursing home neglect need not be extreme or shocking to contribute to, or even cause, a patient's death.

After all, the medical professionals at a nursing home must abide by a reasonable standard of care, and the failure of medical professionals to do so can make a patient extremely sick. For example, a family in another state is suing both a nursing home and the nursing home's attending physician after their loved one died, following a stay in the nursing home.

When the woman arrived at the facility, she had just had surgery, but was in stable condition. Nonetheless, the family contends that the nursing home lost a fax. The fax advised the nursing home that the woman's sodium level was unusually low based on the woman's recent blood work. Unfortunately, the nursing home did not respond to the issue, perhaps because it did not process the fax.

A few days later, the woman began showing symptoms of serious distress. She died shortly afterward, having been diagnosed with "respiratory distress" and "congestive heart failure". The family has subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit that accused the nursing home, and the medical professionals who treated the elderly woman, of negligence.

While this case is still underway, and there is no indication that the nursing home has paid a settlement, the story still serves as an important example of how not all nursing home negligence need be extreme in order to cause serious consequences. Here, it may be that the medical staff simply misplaced or otherwise lost an important fax. Still, when people get injured because of this type of negligence, they or their families deserve just compensation.

Source: The Madison-St. Clair Record, "Wood River nursing home sued on wrongful death claim," Andrea Dearden, June 28, 2013.