Often, a loved one reaches a point where doctors have determined that their medical condition can no longer be successfully treated or cured. However, they still need professional care during the time they have left. That’s where hospice care facilities come in.
These facilities provide what’s known as “palliative” care. This can include things like strong pain medications, gentle physical therapy, fluid drainage and other measures that help keep the person as comfortable as possible.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the goals of hospice care are “to make terminally ill patients, with a life expectancy of 6 months or less, be as physically and emotionally comfortable as possible and to support their families and other caregivers throughout the process.”
Patients are owed a reasonable level of care
Unfortunately, just as in nursing homes, sometimes hospice care patients are the victims of negligence, abuse and even malpractice. Even if this causes someone’s death, families may think they can’t hold the facility or its staff liable since they were going to die soon anyway.
That’s not true. If a hospice facility doesn’t provide a reasonable level of care to someone and live up to the terms of its contract, they can be held liable not only if their actions or negligence cause death but if they cause harm or pain.
The CMS notes that those in hospice care “have the right to be free from abuse, neglect, mistreatment, and misappropriation of patient property. When hospices cause harm or fail to prevent or mitigate the harm caused by others, patients are deprived of these basic rights.”
Ways in which neglect can harm or kill a patient
For example, maybe the staff were negligent in giving a patient their pain medications, causing unnecessary suffering. Perhaps they didn’t properly secure a patient in their bed, so they fell out and struck their head. Maybe a cancer patient suffered a fatal heart attack because they didn’t get emergency care.
There are multiple scenarios in which family members can and should hold these facilities and those who work there liable for harming an already vulnerable person in their care.
If you believe that your loved one suffered harm or death because of the actions or negligence of a hospice care facility, don’t assume that you don’t have the right to seek justice and compensation. Find out more about your right to hold them responsible.