People who suffer from prolonged or permanent disabilities or have various infirmities due to advanced age may choose to receive medical treatment and long-term care at home rather than in the hospital or a skilled nursing facility. Home health care agencies provide patients with the skilled clinical treatment and personal care that they need to continue living at home. Home health care services may include nursing care, physical or occupational therapy, and home health aides who help patients with daily tasks. Although home health care enables some people to remain at home, negligence by home health care providers can cause severe injuries or medical complications. A New Jersey resident harmed by a careless or reckless home health aide or home health care provider may have the right to seek financial recovery for their injuries and losses through a medical malpractice claim. 

Identifying Home Health Aide Malpractice

Home health aides, nurses, and other medical professionals involved in treating patients at home can negligently treat or care for patients in various ways. Some of the most common kinds of home health care negligence include:

  • Medication Errors: Medication errors, including missing doses, failing to identify contraindicated medications, or administering the wrong medication
  • Inadequate Monitoring: Failure to monitor a patient’s condition or communicate changes in condition or vital signs to other members of the patient’s care team or the patient’s family members
  • Insufficient Assistance: Failure to assist the patient around the home, which may lead to a patient with mobility issues suffering a fall
  • Equipment Mismanagement: Failure to maintain a patient’s medical equipment, including IVs, breathing/feeding tubes, or ventilators
  • Neglect of Basic Needs: Failure to ensure the patient has sufficient food and water intake. Failing to assist the patient with basic tasks, such as eating, bathing, using the bathroom, or hygiene
  • Environmental Hygiene: Failing to maintain a clean and sanitary living environment
  • General Neglect: Neglecting a patient, which may lead to falls or wandering

How Do I Know If I or a Loved One Have Been the Victim of Home Health Care Negligence?

Unfortunately, identifying when home health care negligence has occurred may not happen until a malpractice victim has suffered apparent injuries or symptoms of health complications. Some of the top signs of home health care malpractice include:

  • Persistant bedsores/pressure ulcers
  • Unexplained bruises, lacerations, burns, or other physical injuries
  • Broken bones, especially fractures consistent with falls
  • Recurring infections
  • Repeated trips to the emergency room
  • Dehydration or malnutrition
  • Unsanitary conditions in the patient’s home or the patient suffering from poor hygiene
  • Missed medication doses
  • Unexplained behavioral changes in a patient, such as withdrawal, depression, anxiety, or agitation
  • Suspicious behavior by home health care providers

Proving Home Health Care Malpractice

To prove that a home health provider committed malpractice, you must show that the provider acted negligently in treating or caring for you or your loved one. Not all injuries or health emergencies occur because of malpractice. Instead, a home health care provider commits malpractice only if they render treatment that fails to comply with the applicable standard of care in a patient’s case and causes the patient to suffer injuries or harm as a result. 

Although the specifics of the standard of care vary from patient to patient, the standard is generally defined as treatment decisions and actions that other healthcare providers of similar training and experience would make in identical circumstances. Thus, a home health care provider may be liable for malpractice if most other providers would have treated or cared for a patient differently and the patient suffers injury or harm because of the home health care provider’s actions.

In many cases, you will need expert testimony to prove that a home health care provider committed malpractice. This expert must have the same licensing, certification, and specialization as your home health care provider; for example, if the provider is a registered nurse, your expert should also be a registered nurse. Your expert must provide a report and testimony that explains the specifics of the standard of care in your case and provides an opinion as to why your home health care provider’s treatment failed to comply with the applicable standard of care and how that treatment caused your injuries.

Taking Action After Home Health Aide Malpractice

If you suspect that you or a loved one has become the victim of home health aide negligence, there are actions you can take to protect your or your family member’s health and preserve your legal options for pursuing financial recovery and accountability in a malpractice claim. First, you may wish to consider reporting a negligent home health care agency to the New Jersey Department of Health, which investigates complaints of neglect, significant injury, or death of patients. However, if you believe a loved one may be in imminent danger of injury or death, you can also contact law enforcement.

Begin gathering records and other evidence of a home health care provider’s negligence. Critical evidence may include medical records of injuries or health complications caused by negligent home health care, treatment/progress notes, surveillance footage, photos/videos of the patient’s home or physical injuries, and witness testimony. Remember to keep copies of any bills, invoices, or receipts of expenses incurred to recover from injuries and health conditions caused by a home health provider’s negligence. 

Contact a home health aide malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your or your family’s legal options for pursuing financial recovery for your ongoing and future expenses or losses. 

Turn to a Seasoned Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Legal Help After Being Harmed by Home Health Aide Malpractice

After you or a loved one has suffered injuries or medical complications due to negligent care from a home health care provider, you or your family may have the right to seek financial recovery for medical treatment, additional long-term care expenses, or pain and suffering. A New Jersey medical malpractice lawyer from The Epstein Law Firm, P.A., can help you seek accountability and justice for the harm and loss you or your loved one has suffered. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options with our knowledgeable team of attorneys.