Are Nursing Homes Liable for Failing to Follow Physician Orders?

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on March 3, 2023 in Nursing Homes and Elder Rights
Updated on April 24, 2024

failure to follow physician ordersDo you have concerns about the care your loved one is getting in his or her nursing home? If so, you are not alone. Nursing homes have a legal duty to provide residents with a quality of care. This level of care must meet both federal and state standards, which includes following doctor’s orders regarding the care of a resident. If a nursing home fails to follow physician orders, a resident may suffer severe or even fatal harm.

PKSD is a long-time defender of the elderly in nursing homes. Not only do we have extensive knowledge of nursing home laws, but we also have a proven history of success. We have recovered millions on behalf of nursing home residents in Wisconsin, Iowa and New Mexico.

Were you or a loved one injured because of nursing home negligence? If so, we urge you to contact our law offices right away. Our staff is always available to take your call, 24/7, and you can request a FREE case review with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer in Milwaukee.

What Does Failing to Follow Physician Orders Mean?

When a physician issues orders for a patient, it may include details about their medical care, treatments they need, medications that should be administered and more. Nursing homes owe a legal duty to provide a level of care that is in line with both federal and state standards. This includes following a physician’s orders regarding the care of a resident.

Physician orders could include specific care instructions, such as:

  • Prescribed medication for a resident, including the dosage and when it should be administered
  • Whether a medication can be given with other drugs (will it interact in a harmful way)
  • Whether a medication is a stat (urgent/immediate) order
  • Performing specific medical treatment on a patient, such as when/how often to treat bedsores
  • Obtaining diagnostic testing for a condition, injury or other medical concern
  • And more

Who Can Be Liable if a Failure to Follow Physician Orders Causes Harm?

To begin with, the nursing home can be held liable for damages resulting from a failure to follow physician orders.

Liability for failure to follow physician orders could fall to nursing homes, their administrators, even nursing staff and nurse aides. Nursing homes are responsible for meeting:

  • Quality-of-care standards
  • Staffing requirements
  • Providing proper training
  • Doing background checks
  • Ensuring staff are experienced and receive proper training
  • Providing proper oversight of staff

What Could Happen if a Nursing Home Fails to Follow Physician Orders?

When nursing homes fail to follow physician orders, it can cause a resident to suffer severe or fatal harm. If this happens, the nursing home and even individuals may be held liable for any damages that result.

Examples of injuries or worsening conditions that may occur when a nursing home fails to follow physician orders include:

  • Getting no medication, the wrong dosage of medication or the wrong medication
  • Not receiving wound care, such as for bedsores, which could become infected or lead to sepsis
  • Falling due to not receiving assistance when being transported from a bed to a wheelchair
  • Falling due to not being given help when toileting or dressing
  • Choking because resident did not receive proper assistance while eating
  • Not providing proper oversight of a patient known to wander

Why Do Some Nursing Homes Ignore Physician Orders?

When nursing homes fail to follow physician orders, it may be due to many different things. A nursing home failing to follow a doctor’s orders is not necessarily intentional.

For instance, if a nursing home is consistently understaffed there are likely to be more mistakes. A nurse may have too many residents to care for and simply forget. In that type of situation, the nursing home would likely be liable for not ensuring there are enough staff on a shift.

Sometimes a caregiver may ignore some residents needing care because they are annoyed or do not like them. Unfortunately, there are also caregivers who deliberately neglect residents. This is especially a possibility if a nursing home fails to do a proper background check. Checking a nurse or nurse aide’s credentials and employment background helps to uncover staff with a prior history of abuse or neglect at a care home.

How Would I Know if a Nursing Home Failed to Follow Physician Orders?

There is no doubt that proving these types of claims is challenging. However, they are not impossible. It can help if you visit or at least video conference with your loved one often. Doing this can help you to see changes in their behavior or condition more quickly.

Things to look for include:

  • Sudden changes in their behavior
  • Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
  • Frequent falling
  • Development of bedsores
  • Atypical inability to communicate

If you suspect some type of neglect, such as the nursing home failing to follow physician’s orders for your loved one’s medication or other proper care, you should act immediately. Contact the nursing home administrators to have them look into the situation and then seek legal help right away.

How Can I Prove a Nursing Home Failed to Follow Physician Orders?

The burden of proof always falls to the victim/family or his or her attorney. This is certainly a situation where you would not want to attempt to take legal action on your own. Having a knowledgeable and experienced nursing home neglect attorney in Wisconsin can greatly benefit a valid case.

To prove a case, your attorney would need to show:

  • The nursing home owed your loved one a duty of care
  • They violated or breached this duty by neglecting your loved one
  • Your loved one was injured due to this breach
  • Your loved one suffered damages as a direct result

Contact PKSD to Discuss Your Situation

At PKSD, we are dedicated to helping victims of nursing home neglect or abuse. The failure to follow doctor’s orders is just one way neglect may occur. Unfortunately, residents are the ones who suffer most.

Not sure if you have a case? We can help you with that. Contact our law offices 24/7 to discuss your situation and get answers to your legal questions.

There is no obligation to file a claim, but if you do, there are no upfront costs or fees to pay. We accept cases of nursing home neglect on contingency, so you only pay us if we win your case.

Call PKSD today to get started. We are here to help. 414-333-3333

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