When I was 22 and just entering my first year of law school, my grandmother was a victim of patient neglect. At the hospital where she was admitted, her nurse would leave her in a chair for hours on end, forcing her to use the bathroom in the chair while she cried for help. At that point, I researched everything I could about how to sue for patient neglect, trying to find some way to obtain justice for my grandmother.
Patient neglect is different from a malpractice lawsuit, and it can be difficult to sue for patient neglect. For one thing, it is sometimes nearly impossible to identify the person or persons responsible for criminal neglect of a patient, which means that it might be years before a case can actually go to trial. You shouldn’t let this stop you, however, if you or a loved one has been a victim.
Document the Abuse
Whatever it is called, patient neglect is first and foremost abuse. Professionals who take advantage of ill or injured people in a hospital or clinic setting should be held accountable for their actions, whether they are doctors, nurses or technicians. In order to do this, however, you should have detailed documentation of patient neglect in whatever forms possible.
Video or photographic evidence is the best documentation available. Even if you don’t have graphical evidence of patient neglect, you can take pictures of the consequences of that neglect. Any injuries or illnesses sustained as a result of neglect should be described in written form and photographed if possible. You should also take statements of other patients who have been victims or of hospital or clinic staff.
Interview the Patient
To sue for patient neglect, you should get the facts of the case as quickly as possible from the victim. This ensures that memories are clear and accurate, and you will get more details if you address the issue quickly. Ask questions about when it happened, who was responsible, what the patient was feeling and whether there are any long-term consequences.
When you interview a victim of patient neglect, the entire interview should be recorded in video or audio and later transcribed into text. Attach any pictures or videographic evidence to the documents you’ve collected so far, and keep everything in a safe place. Although it might sound paranoid, you wouldn’t be remiss to keep two copies of everything, with one in a safe-deposit box.
File the Paperwork
There are statutes of limitations on all crimes in the United States, including patient neglect. To ensure the victim receives justice, you should file your lawsuit as quickly as possible. You can call the county clerk at your local courthouse to find out about the statute of limitations in your area, but waiting can destroy a case regardless of the legalities.
Not only do you want to obtain fast justice for the victim of patient neglect, but you’ll also want to prevent it from happening to other patients. As long as the perpetrator still has his medical license, other patients are at risk.
To sue for patient neglect, you will have to have patience and tolerance, as the court system never works as quickly as we would like. However, if you have sufficient evidence, you should be successful.