Minnesota Nursing Homes and Minnesota Legal System
By Attorney Ken LaBore
As Minnesotans we have come to appreciate a high quality of care by our health care providers. We have the Mayo Clinic, Abbott Northwestern, Methodist Hospital, the U of Minnesota and other fine providers of Medical services, yet how can the Minnesota legal system allow for such poor care in nursing homes?
Many of the reasons that the best hospitals and medical providers set up in Minnesota as opposed to Iowa, Wisconsin or other neighboring states is that there are protections in Minnesota law and Jury Instructions to reduce the amount of exposure a Minnesota medical provider has when they make an error or commit “medical malpractice”. Minnesota statutes make it difficult to sue medical providers without first obtaining a doctor or other expert’s affidavit setting forth the neglect of the provider. This is often difficult if not impossible on the front side of a lawsuit before any discovery or investigation has occurred.
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Medical providers are also protected by obstacles such as constraints on pain and suffering to exclude pain from an the malpractice of a medical provider, which causes death. In addition to excluding claims for the pain and suffering up to death, there is no compensation for the loss of dignity in someone’s death. Nor is there a mechanism to compensate a family for grieve or anger over the usually avoidable negligence leading to their loved one.
Nursing homes and assisted living providers are considered medical providers and are protected by laws that also govern hospitals and doctors. These protections allow a nursing home to get out of severe acts of neglect by simply admitting fault and then shifting the argument to the facts that under Minnesota Jury Instructions would measure the damages for the death or injury. Unfortunately, these damages are limited for the most part to related medical bills and the value of the aide, comfort and society the elderly person was providing to the family members. The reality is that once you are in a nursing home you are receiving aide, comfort and society from your family and most likely not in a position to provide the same. Children care for their parents and grandparents at this stage of life and therefore, under current Minnesota law, there is very little value placed on the loss of an elderly person’s life.
Although, there are state and federal laws designed to protect the residents of nursing home facilities, these laws are not enough if when they are violated the damages measured from the loss of a vulnerable adult are constrained by laws designed to shield medical providers from liability and accountability. Quite frankly, to date it is more cost effective to pay for lawsuits which due to pro-providers laws, than to make changes to improve the quality of resident care.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or abuse in a nursing home or other care facility that serves the elderly in Minnesota please contact our firm for a free consultation and information regarding the obligations of the facility and your rights as a resident or concerned family member. To contact Attorney Kenneth L. LaBore, directly please send an email to Klabore@MNnursinghomeneglect.com or call Ken at 612-743-9048.