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How to Take Action Against Medical Staff that Failed to Report Pneumonia

March 2, 2020

Pneumonia is something that can take down the elderly and very young with very little effort. In fact, it’s such a big risk for elderly patients that doctors demand immediate notice when a patient or nursing home resident displays any signs of pneumonia. But, if someone failed to report the pneumonia, then you’re likely wondering how your loved one became so sick in such a short time.

A nursing home abuse and neglect attorney can help you get started in taking action against the medical staff who failed your loved one.

Determine If the Staff Was Qualified to Identify the Signs

The symptoms of pneumonia don’t seem bad until it is very severe, which can make it hard to identify. Pneumonia develops after someone is already sick, and the signs of cough, green or yellow mucus, and fever, and shortness of breath may seem like issues that were already present.

The fever may jump as high as 105, and that is usually what alerts medical staff. But, when a patient isn’t on monitors in their room, then the staff may not know of the extraordinary fever until they do checks or their rounds. Now, when it comes to diagnosing pneumonia, a doctor needs to do that. Nurses and other staff aren’t qualified to diagnose, but they’re still responsible for alerting medical teams of the need for immediate attention.

Doctors need to identify the signs and then go through a series of tests to confirm pneumonia. They can use blood tests, an x-ray, a pulse oximetry, or even a sputum test.

The Staff Failed to Report Pneumonia, Who Should They Have Reported it To?

What you’re looking at with these situations falls under either the failure to follow standards of care, failure to communicate, or failure to act a patient advocate. All medical staff are expected to act in these capacities report the suspicion of pneumonia or a worsening condition to a doctor immediately. They should take steps to ease the patient’s symptoms while also arranging for a doctor to come in and handle the situation fully.

That report should be in their medical record or at least documented in the records for the nursing home. In more laid back situations, there may be something as confusing as word-of-mouth where one nurse simply remembers telling the other to check in on a patient. But the purpose of documenting these reports is to show the chain of communication and to help the medical staff prove who they reported certain information to.

Who Should You Alert When Clearly there was Nursing Home Neglect?

When you’re looking at options for who to alert, you should always start with the authorities. If you realize that there was a delayed diagnosis for someone in a nursing home where the residents should receive check-ins, then there was clear neglect.

You can alert social services or the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services whenever you suspect abuse. There’s also an office for the Public Protection Section that addresses questions and concerns about the protection of all senior citizens.

Now, if you believe that the lapse in medical care was extreme or intentional, you can also take your concerns to the medical board. These cases would include something such as a doctor refusing to test for pneumonia after a nurse or another practitioner suggested the exam.

Nursing home neglect, when it comes to not diagnosing, is often a lapse in care, not necessarily purposeful action against the elderly person. Nurses and other medical staff will often see the signs and believe that the patient is already getting all the help that they need. Even when the case seems to be a lapse of judgment, you should still alert authorities. Neglect is not always on purpose, and accidental lapses in care can lead to death.

A Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Can Help if Medical Staff Failed to Report Pneumonia

Fortunately, for the many people with parents of older generations in nursing homes, there are ways to report neglect. That’s what happened here is that the medical staff failed the elderly person who is important to you. That level of neglect is unacceptable as it could lead to death and likely caused sufficient deterioration in health.

Contacting Connell Law could start your family’s legal journey toward getting justice for the person who was neglected. With the victim being older, you may have to take legal action for them. Consider what options you have by meeting with a local Columbia nursing home neglect law firm.