Who is Responsible for Injuries in a Nursing Home’s Hospice Care?

Unfortunately, elderly nursing home residents are often subject to mistreatment because of their vulnerability at the end of their life. This neglect can stem from a lack of communication between hospice care providers and nursing home staff.  When responsibilities fall through the cracks, it is the resident that suffers.

When residents are placed in hospice care, some nursing homes believe the residents are no longer their responsibility and cease to provide them with the attention and care they deserve. This attitude is wrong and dangerous.  Even though hospice care is involved, the nursing home facility must still care for the patient.

If you or a loved one has been injured in hospice care in South Carolina, the facility must be held accountable.  These injuries are preventable, and the first step to doing so is to raise awareness.

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice care is self-described end-of-life care focused on the end-of-life needs of a resident. Ultimately, it is designed to make the patient feel comfortable in their last days.  There are four types of hospice care:

  1. Routine Home Care (the patient receives general care)
  2. Respite Care (gives the caregiver temporary relief up to five days)
  3. Continuous Care (in-home care for eight to twenty-four-hour periods)
  4. General Inpatient Care (the patient receives pain-management and crisis care)

While these types of care frequently take place inside a patient’s personal home, hospice may also be provided within nursing homes. When this happens, hospice and the facility must communicate with one another to fully understand where their duties and responsibilities lie. Coordination is crucial for the resident’s wellbeing.  This is the only way to guarantee the resident’s needs are fully met. 

Regrettably, nursing homes often view hospice as an opportunity to reduce patient care, believing that basic proper care is now the responsibility of the hospice care provider.  But, the facility still owes the patient a duty of care.

How Nursing Homes and Hospice Care are Supposed to Work Together

When hospice joins with a long-term care facility, they are normally tasked with serving a minor role: assisting with medications, comfort, and pain management.  The nursing home is responsible for ensuring the hospice care meets professional standards and that the resident receives proper and timely care.  Regardless of whether they’re enrolled in hospice, the nursing home must always fulfill these duties to its residents. 

Common Forms of Hospice Care Negligence

The most common form of hospice care negligence and injuries come from negligent administration of medication, and errors in proper care for the patient. 

Because hospice care is billed by the day and primarily paid for through the Medicare Hospice Benefit, there is a concern these federal payments encourage a push to keep residents in hospice for unnecessarily long amounts of time, whether in South Carolina or any other state.  This increased time spent in hospice care likely results in less quality of care given to the resident. 

Another common form of hospice care negligence is a general lack of proper care.  This can happen by not regularly repositioning your loved one – leading to bedsores; not supplying your loved one with the right mobility devices – causing falls; and emotionally or physically abusing your loved one.  Sometimes, these wrongful actions occur because the nursing home fails to uphold their end of the bargain when it comes to your loved one’s care after entering hospice.

When these things happen, you and your loved ones suffer.  This suffering is easily avoided.

How Our Law Firm Can Help You

If you or your loved one has experienced an issue with a South Carolina nursing home facility or hospice provider, we may be able to assist you.  First and foremost, be sure to seek protection by moving facilities, if necessary, or contacting the facility about the harm. You can also choose to contact state officials. Legal avenues are in place but cannot stop physical harm that has already occurred.

Once you have done what you can to protect the resident, give us a call.  It is our law firm’s goal to help the community, one resident at a time—even if this means simply listening to your concerns.  If a facility or hospice provider is at fault for hurting your loved one, there may be causes of action for negligence.  Additionally, in the incredibly somber event that a loved one passes away due to the facility’s actions, damages may be recovered by the resident’s estate or family.

The pride we take in our actions comes from both helping our clients and making our community safer.  We look forward to doing just that.  If you have immediate concerns, please give us a call or email me. 

If you have less pressing questions, please check out additional articles in our virtual library.  This information is for the public, so you can help ensure your loved ones get the care and attention they deserve.