Nursing home residents suffer many different kinds of injuries due to nursing home negligence—broken bones, pressure sores, skin tears, malnutrition and dehydration. Perhaps the worst injury they suffer is the injury to their dignity, their self-respect. Many nursing home residents are completely helpless, and need the nursing home staff to do everything for them, including cleaning them up every two hours, so that they won’t have to lie in their own waste for hours at a time. But all too often, the nursing home doesn’t realize how terrible it is for these residents to have to endure the discomfort, the smell, the sheer embarrassment and injury to their dignity that results from having to exist in this manner on a regular basis.
In fact, just last week, Nursing Home Litigation team member Carmaletta Henson was arguing a motion before a judge regarding this same issue. “I explained to the judge what a horrendous injury to a person’s dignity and sense of self-worth it is for them to have to lie in their own waste for hours at a time, because the nursing home doesn’t have enough staff to change them”.
The responsive argument from the defense counsel for the nursing home facility was quite telling. She argued that this resident didn’t develop pressure sores or any other physical injuries as a result of having to lie in her own waste for hours on end, so there was no “injury”, and a jury should not be asked to value this non-injury. This is a perfect example of the cold and heartless response we oftentimes see from nursing homes and their lawyers, a response that we fight to change. The injury to these residents is clear, and senseless. This is an injury that should never happen.
Nursing home owners MUST provide adequate staff to meet the needs of the residents, including their need to be changed and kept clean. If they can’t provide that level of care for whatever reason, if they can’t meet the needs of the residents, then they should get out of the business and allow others, who are willing to spend the time and the money to meet the residents’ needs, to step in. This is the change that we at Henson Fuerst fight for everyday.