As an attorney who has dedicated my practice to advocating for the rights of nursing home residents and their families, I have witnessed far too many cases of neglect and abuse. One particularly devastating situation occurs when nursing home staff misinterpret Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders, leading to tragic consequences for residents and their families. In this post, I will discuss the importance of proper communication and record-keeping in nursing homes and offer advice for families to ensure their loved ones’ wishes are respected.
DNR Orders: A Life and Death Decision
A DNR order is a legally binding directive that indicates a person’s desire not to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) in the event their heart stops or they stop breathing. These orders are often put in place for individuals with terminal illnesses, advanced age, or other conditions that make resuscitation unlikely to be successful or result in a meaningful quality of life.
The responsibility of nursing home staff to accurately interpret and follow these orders is of the utmost importance. Mistakes in this area can lead to the unnecessary loss of life, as was the case in two recent incidents at Long Island nursing homes in Nassau County and Suffolk County.
Tragic Mistakes at Cold Spring Hills and Central Island
In separate but similar incidents at Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Woodbury and Central Island Healthcare in Plainview, nursing home staff erroneously believed that residents who had stopped breathing had DNR orders in place. In both cases, the resident died as a result of the staff’s failure to initiate potentially lifesaving CPR.
These tragic incidents highlight the critical importance of proper communication and record-keeping in nursing homes. Staff must be adequately trained and vigilant in ensuring that they are aware of residents’ DNR status and that they accurately follow the orders in place. Nursing homes must also have clear and reliable systems for documenting and communicating this crucial information among staff members.
Protecting Your Loved One’s Wishes
To ensure that your loved one’s wishes are respected, there are several steps you can take:
- Be proactive: When your loved one is admitted to a nursing home, make sure that their DNR status is clearly documented in their medical records and that all relevant staff members are aware of it.
- Verify the accuracy of records: Periodically review your loved one’s medical records to ensure that their DNR status is accurately documented and that any changes in their wishes have been appropriately updated.
- Educate yourself on the nursing home’s policies: Familiarize yourself with the nursing home’s policies and procedures for handling DNR orders, including how they are documented and communicated among staff members.
- Advocate for your loved one: If you have concerns about how your loved one’s DNR status is being managed, do not hesitate to speak up and advocate for their rights.
- Seek legal advice: If you suspect that your loved one’s DNR wishes have been ignored or misinterpreted, consult with an experienced nursing home attorney to discuss your options for pursuing justice.
Seek Help from Alonso Krangle, LLP
If you or a loved one has experienced the devastating consequences of a misinterpreted DNR order in a nursing home, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at Alonso Krangle, LLP have extensive experience representing clients in nursing home abuse and neglect cases in Long Island, Nassau County, and Suffolk County.
Our compassionate and knowledgeable team is committed to holding nursing homes accountable for their actions and ensuring that your loved one’s rights are protected. Contact Alonso Krangle, LLP today at (800) 403-6191 for a free consultation and to discuss your case.