"Call the Champs!"
Nahon, Saharovich, & Trotz

Failure to Supervise Dementia Patients in a Tennessee Nursing Home

Dementia includes several brain diseases that change personality and social behavior, and they can cause the afflicted person to become confused and forgetful. Often, the changes caused by dementia affect a person’s ability to take care of him or herself, necessitating the participation of caregivers. Some people in Tennessee choose to put their loved ones in a nursing home precisely because caring for someone with dementia and properly supervising them over the course of the day and night can become overwhelming.

Nursing homes in Tennessee owe a duty to residents to properly supervise them so that they can stay healthy and safe. This duty arises out of the extensive regulations that cover nursing homes in Tennessee, but it may also have some basis in individual written contracts that are signed when a patient is admitted to the nursing home.

A failure to supervise residents is one type of negligence that is somewhat common in nursing homes. When a nursing home fails to provide supervision to residents with dementia, the resident is likely to get hurt. The resident may “elope” or wander away from the nursing home. The resident may become dehydrated or malnourished because he or she forgets to drink. The resident may be abused or abuse others.

Some reasons a nursing home may negligently fail to supervise residents include insufficient staff, improper training, lack of standards or procedures for how to check on residents, or insufficient security measures. In some cases, nursing homes try to control the behavior of residents by using improper restraints. These restraints may be physical, but in some cases, they are medications that are improperly administered. For example, some nursing homes use antipsychotics to manage agitation or aggression in their residents. These are linked to stroke, infections, heart failure, and an increased risk of death.

If your loved one is injured while not being adequately supervised, it may be appropriate to pursue a claim against his or her Tennessee nursing home. In some cases, it may be appropriate to ask for both compensatory and punitive damages. Over the summer, a woman’s son recovered punitive damages in Pennsylvania for a nursing home’s failure to properly supervise her when she suffered from dementia.

The woman had fallen previously and had limited mobility, but on the occasion in question, she fractured her shoulder and hip when getting up from the dining room and walking on a ramp without assistance. For months after these injuries, she suffered in serious pain, without knowing why. The nursing home presented the defense that it had more staff than necessary and that falls in a nursing home are inevitable.

The jury found that the son was owed $2 million for negligence that resulted in his mother’s pain and suffering. This was an amount larger than jurors in that part of Pennsylvania had previously awarded in such a case, although there had previously been confidential settlements for more than that sum. The jury believed the nursing home should be taught a lesson and therefore also awarded $250,000 in punitive damages for the facility’s recklessness. The total award was $2,250,000.

If you are being abused, or you suspect a loved one was abused or neglected, the Tennessee nursing home negligence attorneys at Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz may be able to help. Contact us toll-free at 1-800-529-4004 or by completing our online form.