Having handled many cases, we have learned that Wrongful Death cases often actually begin before death. As the health of your loved one declines, you are understandably focused on doing whatever you can to help them, but are probably also wondering what went wrong and how it could have been avoided. You may even feel the need for there to be an accounting for what happened.
Quickly, you find yourself in a hospital where your parent or other relative is undergoing a battle to save their life after what appears to be negligence in the nursing home or assisted living facility dehydration, a fall, a medication error, or a long variety of other wrongful acts that too frequently occur in these facilities.
The doctors at the hospital advise you that you need to start thinking about palliative care and that there is no reasonable prospect for a restoration of their former quality of life. You choose to place your loved one on hospice or in another nursing home. The doctors at the hospital know and tell you what happened. They also often document it carefully in their written reports and discharge summaries. They must advise you that your loved one is not going to make it. But your loved one lives weeks or months after the original incident, and when they pass, the people caring for them in a different facility don’t know or may not want to report the actual history of the situation.
It is important that all caregivers involved understand and accurately document what happened to your loved one.
Without consulting those who know, without review of the records of what really happened, they certify that death is from natural non negligent causes dementia, a failed heart, some long standing condition. At these times of maximum pain and stress, it is important to try to talk to the doctor who may be certifying the death and to give them the background of what actually happened to place your mother and father in their care. You can even provide them with the key records from the hospital which you should get as you are leaving. You can ask them to review these. You can also ask the doctor at the end to talk with the doctors who know the true history if they do not know it themselves. This is important advocacy, difficult and painful to do under the horrible stresses that you are under, but one that can help ensure the best chances for justice when you begin the process of considering bringing a case and must undertake the burden of proving what actually wrongfully caused a tragic preventable outcome.