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Was nursing negligence to blame for elderly man's death?

Oregon readers may not be aware that on Feb. 2011, a 71-year-old man from another state wandered out of a nursing home at approximately 4 a.m. He was found dead hours later. His family filed a nursing negligence claim in Jan. 2013.

The elderly man was transferred to the nursing home in question on just the day prior to his death. His surviving family members claim in their lawsuit that they were not informed that he was being transferred and were not given the opportunity to object to the move. Three of the nursing home's staff members were criminally charged in the matter, but those charges were later dismissed. The state Attorney General's Office continued its investigation into the incident, however.

Video footage showed the man leaving the nursing home. The Texas Department of Aging and Disabilities Services investigation indicates that he fell several times and remained on the facility's grounds. Temperatures on the day of his death were below 10 degrees.

At shift change that morning, an incoming staff member was told that all was well by an outgoing staff member. About an hour later, at around 8 a.m., the man was found. He did not survive the ordeal. The defendants attempted to have a doctor's report regarding the case dismissed, arguing that it was not sufficient. The appeals court denied the request for lack of jurisdiction.

Therefore, the report will remain as a piece of evidence for the court to consider in making its ruling in this case. A court decision finding negligence on the part of the facility and its staff could result in the consideration of damages similar to those that would be requested in a similar case here in Oregon. Nursing negligence can be just as serious and/or deadly as doctor negligence. Nurses must meet a certain standard of care with regard to the patients in their charge. If they fail to meet that standard, they may be held liable for their actions, along with the facility by which they are employed.

Source: lubbockonline.com, "Appeals court denies Brownfield nursing home's request to dismiss doctor's report in pending lawsuit", Josie Musico, July 2, 2015

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