Nursing Home Deaths: How To Tell If Nana Didn't Go Naturally

Nursing homes are places where elderly people go to live out their remaining days, and/or to heal from major surgeries (e.g., hip surgery). While there is some expectation by families that their elderly loved ones will probably pass away in a nursing home, sudden or unusual deaths should cause you to pause. If you suspect that Nana did not go naturally, you should take your suspicions to a wrongful death lawyer ASAP. With the lawyer's help, you can find out if your grandmother's or grandfather's death was not normal. 

Ask the Coroner for the Full Report

In most instances where an elderly person dies, it is not typical for a coroner to conduct an investigation. There have to be some signs of abuse or neglect, or previous evidence thereof. If there are no outward signs of abuse or neglect, the coroner may just skip the autopsy. If it seems like this is going to happen to your Nana's or Pop-pop's body, you can formally request an autopsy. Your lawyer can help you file the correct paperwork. This has to be done before the body is preserved for burial or cremated.

Get Copies of Nursing Home Records

You need to get copies of all of the records related to your grandparent's care in the nursing home. Any time that there is a bruise, a welt, a lump, or a skin injury, the nurses are required to record it, get a doctor to diagnose what it is, and then record the daily required treatments for those injuries. As next of kin, you can request every record they have, including medication administration records. Missing an important medication or not receiving it could be a cause of death, as well as negligence on the part of the nursing home staff.

Break open a Can of Worms, Metaphorically Speaking

Nursing homes are graded on level of care, just like hospitals. The state keeps records on the number of personal complaints filed in each nursing home. Most families are not aware of this, and they should be as it would help them pick a better, less abusive environment for elderly family members. Your wrongful death attorney can look these records up and request copies of all complaints of abuse and neglect filed against this particular nursing home in the last five years. This is information that will be quite relevant in proving that your grandparent died of unnatural causes.