Visitor Question

Seeking Guidance For Death Involving Elder Abuse

Submitted By: James (USA)

My father-in-law died in a long-term acute care facility. He was a victim of Parkinson’s disease. He was there to be weaned off respiratory support and for physical therapy to enable him to transfer from bed to wheel chair to bathroom.

The staff showed remarkable lack of understanding of Parkinson’s and timeliness of administering medication. Each staff had to be “re-trained” even though we created a posted sheet to give them guidelines.

He made progress toward weaning off the respirator and was pleading for physical therapy so that he could transfer from the bed to a chair. Physical therapy was spotty and incomplete.

He had plueral infusions but these were diminishing.

Overall he was making progress (despite staff being unreliable),

then we got a call in the early AM hours that he was in code blue.

When we arrived he was dead.

Seems he had been given Ativan, slept some, had an apnea and was put on higher level respiration support, then became restless (possibly due to Parkinson’s) and was given more Ativan. When staff noticed this (we think they were ignoring him – “snowing” him) they had no antidote to Ativan and code blue procedures failed.

The point of all this – this is not Personal Injury. I am looking for a good sample Demand Letter to submit for this malpractice/negligence/elder abuse based on the very detailed review of all hospital documentation (and our own which we kept daily – as we were with him 12 or more hours per day).

Any guidance is appreciated.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear James,

You are correct in that it is not a personal injury; It may be a wrongful death as a result of medical malpractice negligence, however. In this case, it appears that the parties were severely negligent in the care of your loved one.

There are a couple theories: On the one hand, you have a wrongful death claim where, through the negligence of another, your loved one died.

Not only would you sue the facility, but you might also pursue a cause of action against the employees under a theory of vicarious liability.

With vicarious liability, employers may be liable for the negligence of their employees.

The other theory is medical malpractice.

In those types of cases, you must establish that the medical professionals who cared for your loved one provided services that fell below the standard of care generally expected in the community. From the facts that you have presented, you should be able to do so.

The first step is to submit a claim to the insurance company that insures the facility in which your father resided. From there, the insurance company will either accept or deny the claim.

If they deny the claim, you will know that you need to file a lawsuit on behalf of your father’s estate.

If they accept liability, you will begin negotiating a settlement that compensates you for any claims you might have for the loss of your loved one, and also on behalf of the estate if you are responsible for your father’s post-mortem affairs.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: October 28, 2010

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