Everyone knows the population of the United States is aging. Entire news cycles are spent regaling us with statistics and projections of Connecticut's and the remainder of the country's recent penchant for 'greying.' Because of this, in both political and legal circles, the issues that affect older people are becoming more and more visible and important. One of these is the abuse and neglect of people living in long-term care facilities or nursing homes.
As a society, we can often accomplish more collectively than we can individually. Utilizing a wide range of organizational tools, modern civilizations create entities responsible for helping maintain the health, comfort and well-being of their citizens, from police forces to trash collection to regulatory agencies that ensure air and water quality. Connecticut, like most states, has state departments that are tasked with regulating long-term care facilities and nursing homes. One of the facets of this is inspecting institutions, surveying patients, and investigating reports of abuse.
It has been a much-remarked-on fact recently that the population of the United States is growing older. Due to the so-called 'baby boom' generation reaching retirement age, the age-based demographic pyramid is becoming top-heavy. As a result, social issues that affect the older population are becoming more prevalent in the national consciousness. One of these is the looming specter of nursing home abuse.
The blog has previously discussed various aspects of premises liability law in the state of Connecticut. We've touched on the use of the negligence tort in such cases, and the various elements that generally go into proving negligence, including duty, causation, and damages. We've also mentioned the various categories into which people present on someone else's property may fall, such as invitee, licensee and trespasser. But how far does, say, a business owner's duty extend, in physical or geographic terms?
Medical practices these days tend to be pretty specialized. While a Connecticut resident may have a general practitioner for basic check-ups and small problems like colds, when there is something more serious happening, that person is likely to be referred to someone for that specific problem. Further, when dealing with internal medicine, there may be multiple doctors and other health care workers involved in patient care, as a radiologist may need to read scans or x-rays, while a specialist determines the best course of action, and a surgeon does any necessary procedures, usually accompanied by an anesthesiologist.
Humans have been seeking a cure for cancer for as long as we have been aware the disease existed. Such a cure may have been easier to come by if there weren't so many different types of it and ways for cancer to attack. While we are not there yet, we have come a long way in cancer diagnosis and treatment, and, for many types, cancer does not have to be a death sentence. However, in almost all cases, treatment depends upon catching the disease in an early stage, before it has spread to multiple, or more vulnerable organs.
We've previously discussed many aspects of premises liability law in the state of Connecticut. Readers may remember that, in many cases, plaintiffs will attempt to recover under a negligence theory when they are injured on someone else's property. Negligence requires a legal duty to the injured person, and we've touched on the various statuses people in Connecticut can have when on another's land, namely, trespasser, licensee, and invitee. While the exact duties a landowner or possessor has to each of these types of individuals will vary, one component of a premises liability case usually remains the same: notice.
There are many aspects to premises liability law in Connecticut. As this blog has discussed, various negligent behavior by owners of property that cause injury to people on that premises may make the landowner financially responsible for the damage that has been done. What kind of duty a land owner has is often dictated by the kind of status the injured party had, either as an invitee, licensee or trespasser. In these types of cases whether the owner of the premises breached his or her duty is an important part of the case.
Between the Christmas and New Year's holidays, late December is a time for celebration in many Connecticut households. People get together with family, or perhaps head out with friends to bars or clubs to let off some steam after a long year, and welcome the reset that people assume a change in the calendar numbers will provide. As with most of the United States, alcoholic beverages often play a significant role in these celebrations. At times like this, even otherwise responsible people may slip and decide to operate a motor vehicle after having had a few too many drinks.
We've previously discussed various forms of abuse and neglect that can take place in nursing homes in Connecticut. Whether it is the failure of staff to properly care for a bed-ridden patient, or the use of drugs to maintain the person in a 'compliant' state, there are numerous ways in which it is possible for nursing homes to injure their residents. We have also discussed the fact that residents and their loved ones should be firm and create a plan that the nursing home and the patient are aware of that addresses the primary needs and concerns of the patient.