On January 25, 2018, a Georgia nursing home negligence jury returned its verdict against the defendant nursing home in the amount of $7,621,000, finding the nursing home guilty of both ordinary negligence and medical malpractice. The Georgia nursing home negligence jury determined that the defendant nursing home was responsible for 20% of its verdict and that the defendant physician assistant, his supervisor and other non-parties were 80% responsible. However, because an allocation of responsibility is not appropriate for the ordinary negligence claim, the defendant nursing home will be responsible for a large portion of the total compensatory damages verdict along with the plaintiff’s attorneys fees because the defendant nursing home rejected the plaintiff’s formal offer of judgment (i.e., formal settlement demand) that was much lower than the jury’s award. The defendant physician assistant and his supervising physician had settled the claims against them before trial.
The Georgia nursing home negligence plaintiff alleged that a 71-year-old resident of the defendant nursing home had vomiting, hypoactive bowel sounds, and abdominal distension from the night of October 25, 2012 to the morning of October 26, 2012. The defendant nursing home did not have a RN on duty during that night shift; LPNs staffed the nursing home at that time.
The resident had lived at the defendant nursing home for twelve years. He was wheelchair bound and had been diagnosed with dementia, paranoia with delusional disorder, and depression. His mental status waxed and waned.
The Georgia nursing home negligence lawsuit alleged that a LPN telephoned the defendant physician assistant during the night to report the resident’s symptoms and to request authorization to have him transported to the hospital, which was only one minute from the nursing home. The physician assistant allegedly denied the request for transport to the hospital and instead ordered certain medical testing, which was not performed on a STAT basis. The physician assistant allegedly advised the LPN to call him back if the resident’s condition worsened but the LPN never called the physician assistant back, despite the worsening of the resident’s condition (he was moaning in pain, he developed abdominal pain, and his bowel sounds were absent). No one at the defendant nursing home called the resident’s family members to report the resident’s condition.
During the morning shift on October 26, 2012, two RNs attended to the resident, who was vomiting again and may have aspirated, yet the resident was not transported to the hospital emergency room. It was not until the physician assistant arrived at the defendant nursing home later that morning that the resident was finally transported to the hospital.
At the hospital, a large quantity of coffee ground-like material was suctioned from his stomach over the course of about four hours. The resident died in the hospital twelve hours after his arrival, due to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) caused by his aspiration of feculent material.
The plaintiff’s Georgia nursing home negligence lawyers alleged ordinary negligence in addition to professional negligence. The ordinary negligence claim was based on the defendant nursing home’s failure to have a RN on the premises during the night shift when the resident was in distress, which the plaintiff argued was an effort to save costs at the expense of residents’ health and safety.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries (or worse) while a resident of a nursing home in Georgia or in another U.S. state due to nursing home neglect, nursing home negligence, nursing home abuse, or nursing home understaffing, you should promptly contact a nursing home claim attorney in Georgia or in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and file a nursing home claim on your behalf, if appropriate.
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