In recent years, there has been an increasing shift in the medical industry of moving ventilator patients from intensive care units to the nursing home. Typically, these patients require long-term ventilation that is very costly for hospitals to sustain. In nursing homes, free-standing ventilator units can decrease the cost of supplying medical care to a patient who requires 24/7 ventilator care. If you are considering the thought of moving a loved one on a ventilator to a nursing home, then you should be aware of the rights that your loved one has in a nursing home. All too often, nursing homes find it easy to stop providing adequate care to unconscious or ventilator patients who do not have a means of expressing themselves and complaining about their conditions.
Laws Governing Rights of Ventilator Patients
Under federal law, the rights of all nursing home patients are codified in the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. These rights maintain that nursing home patients are to be treated with respect and dignity. These rights also maintain that nursing home patients are to receive adequate care that complies with federal and state statutes.
There may be instances in which ventilator patients live in states that have advanced directives laws in place. An advanced directive is a decision that an individual makes about his or her own health care in a will document. One may decide that he or she does not want to remain on a ventilator in an advanced directive. If this is the case, then family members may have to honor the medical decision that has been made in this document despite their own desires.
Opening Communication with the Patient
A patient on a ventilator may still be able to communicate in some ways. It is important for nursing home staff members to try to facilitate the communication of a patient on a ventilator. He or she may still be able to use pen and paper to communicate. Hand gestures or blinking can be other ways in which a ventilator patient communicates with the outside world.
Taking Care in the Transition from Hospital to Nursing Home
In the transition of a patient into the nursing home, it is important to ensure that the needs of the patient are met at all times. This includes ensuring that the pain medication and sedation needs of the patient are met. If a patient is in extreme pain, then he or she may require more powerful sedation drugs to ease the pain. Physical restraints should still not be used on patients who are on a ventilator. Physical restraints can cause a patient to experience additional pain, and they can restrict the communications that a patient has with his or her family members.
It is also important for nursing home staff members to protect a patient from ventilator patient choking. Ventilator patient choking is common when inexperienced staff work with ventilators and do not know how to adjust the controls. Experienced nursing home staff members should understand how to control the flow of air to sync with a patient’s own breathing so that choking is avoided.
Nursing home staff members should also take care to prevent infection in patients on a ventilator. Because the patient is bed-ridden and may not be able to vocalize his or her wants and needs, some staff members forget to change sheets or change clothing of the patient. This is a severe form of neglect, and this neglect can have other consequences on the patient’s life. The patient may develop a urinary tract infection or other severe illness that can actually result in death. He or she can develop pneumonia, another very serious illness.
Speak with Nursing Home Lawyers for Help Today
Nursing home lawyers are available to assist you in dealing with the neglect of a ventilator patient. Every ventilator patient is entitled to the same rights that other residents have in a nursing home, and a lawyer can ensure these rights are articulated in court. Particularly for suspicious circumstances related to the death of a ventilator patient, it is important to evaluate the situation carefully to determine why the complications developed. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has a nurse on staff who can evaluate these circumstances and provide some needed answers to your questions. Moreover, we will provide this assessment without cost or obligation to you as we only earn a legal fee when their is a recovery for your family.