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Case Study: I Can Never See a Doctor When I Request One

Under-staffed nursing homes can lead to abuse or neglect of patients


DATELINE WADING RIVER, NY  “I call and call but I can never see a doctor when I need one.”

These words, spoken in a phone call over what seemed to be typical commotion in his Riverhead nursing home, proved to be the last that sons Ross and Jason heard their father Saul utter. Nursing home abuse often manifests itself in unexplained injuries that can ultimately be traced to falls or other negligent nursing home care.

Within hours their father had lapsed into a coma from which he would never awaken.

“Do you think they just didn’t hear him when he reached out?” Ross wondered.

“You mean the nursing home staff?”

“Yeah. Them.  I mean, he never seemed to have trouble making himself heard.”

“I know.”

“Maybe he was calling out, but they just weren’t responding,” Ross speculated. “It’s true that when we visited him, the staff seemed pretty scarce. In fact, last Saturday there was only one nurse’s aide on Dad’s floor.”

“He was hooked up to plenty of monitoring equipment. Maybe they just weren’t paying attention,” Jason agreed.

“I think we should look into this further.”

“I hate to imagine him calling out in his last hours – maybe in pain or having trouble breathing — with no one answering him.”

“I know. Terrible.”



What happened to Saul in a nursing home is not uncommon. The causes of these injuries require investigation, a study of medical records, and plenty of question-asking. A nursing home should be a safe place for patients, but sadly patients suffer unexplained injuries and death due to negligent nursing home care. How will you know whether your loved one’s injury was caused by negligent nursing home care?

Often the first indications of nursing home abuse come from an unexplained fracture, hematoma or other injury.

An unexpected visit to the emergency room is also cause to suspect negligent nursing home care. Ask questions. What caused the injury? Was there a fall? Where and when did this happen? In Saul’s case, he may have needed close monitoring or needed to go to the bathroom and nobody answered his call for help. Or, he may have been so medicated he could not walk properly. Or he may have fallen out of bed or wheelchair because the nursing home was not monitoring him properly due to inadequate and short staffing.

If your loved one has suffered neglect leading to injury while under the care of a nursing home, you and your loved one may have legal recourse.

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