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Can our Family sue a Nursing Home for Negligence if our Mother had a Stroke While Under Their Care?

In general, the resident can bring a personal injury suit against a nursing home, but the circumstances surrounding the injury will ultimately determine whether or not the claim has merit. Injuries of all types occur in Maryland elder care facilities every year, so there is no lack of potential litigation related to possible nursing home negligence, but the question of whether the ill effects of a resident’s stroke could have been avoided will need to be handled as a possible malpractice claim.

As with malpractice claims against an individual physician or hospital, a medical malpractice lawsuit against a Maryland nursing home is usually based on the quality of healthcare services, or more specifically the lack thereof, being provided at the elder care facility where the victim was residing.

From time to time, substandard medical care is delivered within the nursing home environment because there are too many residents and too few doctors and nurses available to provide proper medical care. On the other hand, there are instances where a doctor or nurse whose responsibility it is to watch over residents at a nursing home fails in his or her duty to provide the proper amount or quality of care expected of them. In this second case, there is most certainly a potential basis to lodge a medical malpractice or medical error claim against the physician, nurse and/or the nursing facility itself.

At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we have seen alarming instances of physician malpractice in the Baltimore area. Here in the Old Line State, elder care facilities and nursing homes are monitored by the State of Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The daily operation of nursing homes is also governed by the Code of Maryland Regulations, which is a strict set of legal regulations by which every licensed nursing home in the state of Maryland must abide.

One of the numerous legal requirements that this Code requires is that all Maryland nursing homes must maintain a firm set of policies and procedures created to prevent abuse and neglect of its elderly residents. Failure to maintain or follow these policies can provide grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against a Maryland nursing home.

Dangers or Stroke Misdiagnosis

Whether a stroke occurs in the hospital or at a nursing home, time is the most critical factor when diagnosing and treating the victim. Treatment of a stroke must take place within the first few hours following its onset or medical intervention may not be able to halt its effects. The resulting injury to the victim’s brain and consequent mental and physiological impairment will likely be permanent if a stroke is not identified and treated within this rather narrow window.

Sadly, about one-fifth of all strokes in the United States are initially misdiagnosed, and for the elderly residents of Maryland nursing homes, the consequences can certainly be devastating.

Symptoms of a Stroke

Strokes occur when blood flow to a portion of the brain is blocked either due to a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or because of a burst blood vessel, which results in a brain bleed (hemorrhagic stroke). While people of all ages can experience a stroke, men over 55 years of age are the most likely victims; sadly, because strokes are less common in the female population, a woman who suffers from a stroke may initially be misdiagnosed, leading to serious medical consequences.

The following are some common signs of a stroke:

  • Sudden onset of a severe headache
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of coordination or balance
  • Loss of consciousness
  • A marked change in alertness
  • Trouble with speech or loss of the ability to understand others
  • Sensory changes, which can include trouble hearing, loss or change in one’s sense of taste, loss of touch sensation, reduced or loss of feeling pain or pressure
  • Numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness, often affecting one side of the victim’s face or body
  • Sudden onset of vision problems, which may include partial or complete loss of sight, or double vision
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Onset of urinary and/or fecal incontinence
When Misdiagnosis Becomes Malpractice

It goes without saying that a misdiagnosis of stroke can have serious implications, if not life-threatening results. And while doctors and nurses are required to make quick assessments and medical judgments as part of their job, the pressures of an emergency medical situation do not relieve them of the responsibility to observe a professional standard of care when diagnosing and treating a nursing home patient.

If misdiagnosis is found to be the result of substandard care, and especially if the victim of a stroke suffers harm as a result of delayed or improper diagnosis, the patient or her surviving family members may have grounds to recover financial compensation through the filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

If you believe that your loved one was misdiagnosed at the time of his or her stroke, and that harm resulted as a consequence of that misdiagnosis or improper medical treatment, we strongly suggest that you consult with a qualified Maryland personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

It is important to understand that medical malpractice claims often entail complex and detailed legal and medical investigations. The skilled personal injury litigation team at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, have the training and legal background to help your family recover the compensation due under the laws of the State of Maryland; however, because of the time-consuming nature of many medical malpractice cases, we urge potential clients not to waste any time before speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

If you are concerned that an elderly friend or family member suffered from the effects of substandard care at a nursing home in Maryland or the Washington, D.C., area, we recommend that you learn more about you and your family’s legal rights by contacting the law offices of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, to arrange for a free, no-obligation legal consultation with one of our personal injury experts.

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