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  • Swinehart Consulting, LLC

Why Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorneys Need Legal Nurse Consultants

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

Nursing home abuse and neglect is nothing new, but the COVID-19 Pandemic has shed light on the subject. Short-staffed and under-regulated facilities have been pushed beyond their limits, and atrocities have occurred as a result. Attorneys that handle these cases are finding that their phones are ringing off the hook with horror stories, but they’re having trouble figuring out which cases to retain. That’s why they need legal nurse consultants that can help them assess whether abuse and neglect occurred before retaining the case. After they retain the case, they need a legal nurse consultant to obtain and analyze all the records, research constantly changing regulations regarding COVID-19 and developments in what’s considered “standard treatment.” The nursing home legal nurses at Swinehart Consulting are experts in nursing home standards of care and can be key players on your legal team.

How A Legal Nurse Consultant Can Help You Prove Neglect For A Nursing Home Case

Neglect at a nursing home is actionable when a resident does not receive care that satisfies their basic needs. Of course, the nursing home will try their best to cover up neglect, especially when they get wind that they might be sued. A careful review of medical records can often reveal malnutrition or unintentional weight loss caused by failure to provide adequate or appropriate food. Other signs of neglect include low albumin levels, dehydration which causes elevated sodium and blood urea nitrogen, as well as more obvious signs such as pressure sores and an unkempt appearance. There are also clues that can be found in the facility’s regulatory records, such as the number of staff on duty each day and how often the facility is cleaned. These regulations are changing rapidly due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, requiring a skilled medical professional to keep up with them. Swinehart Consulting owner, Amy Swinehart, has worked as a director of a nursing in multiple nursing homes, so she knows exactly what to look for in the records to strengthen a case against a facility for neglect.

How Legal Nurse Consultants Help Attorneys Fight Nursing Home Abuse

It’s even more challenging to prove that a nursing home has been abusing a resident that ever before due to state laws that are preventing families from visiting nursing homes to avoid transmission of COVID-19. Without being able to see physical signs of the use of restraints, bed sores and lacerations, it’s become much more difficult to prove abuse successfully. But that doesn’t make it impossible. There is a right to review medical records in a timely manner and to connect the resident with virtual video to assess their condition and to improve their mental health. Without the ability to see what’s going on, the assessment on video chat and the review of the medical records requires a higher level of expertise than it might under normal circumstances. The most frustrating cases are where the resident is complaining of abuse, and the nursing home is trying their best to cover it up. That’s when a thorough review of the medical records by an experienced legal nurse consultant can make all the difference in the world. A common type of abuse is overmedicating patients in order to keep them docile and easier to care for. A glance at the medical records may show that an appropriate amount of medication is being dispensed, but a thorough review may show blood and urine work that indicates much higher amounts of the drug in the body than what they claimed in the records.

Legal Nurse Consultants Are Needed In Every Stage Of A Nursing Home Case

The most important time to have a legal nurse consultant on your team is to determine whether or not to retain a case. This decision is best made after a thorough review of the resident’s current and past medical records to determine whether there is neglect and/or abuse. If the resident’s family believes their loved one died as a result of neglect and/or abuse, it’s important to determine whether they were so frail and ill that they most likely died of their illness. Legal nurse consultants know that nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys work on contingency, investing money in cases and only getting reimbursed and paid when the case is successful. That’ s why they create detailed merit review documents to help attorneys make this important decision. Once the case is retained, it’s important to follow up with analyzing additional patient and facility records, as well as changes in the law and regulations that govern nursing home facilities. Facilities that are owned by municipalities often require detailed explanations as part of their “notice of claim” requirements and litigation requires pleadings, motions, and opposition papers to be drafted that require a detailed analysis of the medical aspects of nursing home cases. If a case proceeds to trial, all the medical information must be brought up to date and the expert witnesses must be prepared to testify. Legal nurse consultants are the perfect virtual assistants for these and many other crucial elements of successfully resolving nursing home cases.

Swinehart Consulting - Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Specialists

The nursing home legal nurses at Swinehart Consulting have worked as a legal nurse consultant on many types of cases, but their greatest level of expertise is with nursing homes. They know the standard of care that these facilities are required to provide and how to find the evidence necessary to hold them responsible by scouring the patients current and past medical records, the facilities records, and government records that show complaints and fines against the nursing facilities. If they believe that a resident has been a victim of nursing home abuse and neglect, they will leave no stone unturned helping you find the evidence. They will also save you time and money by advising you promptly when a case is meritless and it will not be possible to prove any abuse and neglect. Sadly, some legal nurse consultants string attorneys along on meritless cases so that they can collect fees. If you’re an attorney that specializes in nursing home cases, you need an honest, hardworking legal nurse consultant. Call the nursing home legal nurses at Swinehart Consulting before you retain your next case.

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