While many nursing homes in New York City strive to give their patients the best care possible, the job of caring for someone who needs constant attention can be draining physically, emotionally and mentally. At times, staff may grow negligent in their responsibilities, committing overmedication errors, failing to make sure that the patient eats the right foods or even allowing them to hurt themselves. In some cases, nursing home neglect may even go undetected when the patient dies, especially if the coroner isn’t looking for signs of neglect or abuse.
A county coroner is actively conducting an investigation when a nursing home patient dies to make sure that they were not victims of abuse or neglect. The idea is to promote awareness and prevention rather than try and catch a nursing home that has mistreated a patient. However, if the coroner does find evidence of neglect as he has in past cases, he will likely make sure that someone else knows about it to protect the other residents in the home.
As part of the examination, the coroner will be looking for bone fractures, bruises, and other signs that a patient has been abused. Staff will also be questioned as to the type of medications the patient should have been taking, how a head injury was received, and other matters.
It is unknown whether any other county or city coroners have taken the initiative to watch out for signs of abuse, but it could be an effective program. If families feel that their loved one may have been abused or neglected, a legal professional may be able to help answer their questions.
Source: NWA, “Coroner Starts Spot Checks in Nursing Home Deaths,” Cassidy Hodges, April 1, 2013