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Can you file a wrongful death claim against a hospice care facility?

People in a hospice care facility are typically in their final days or weeks of life. Patients often make the decision to go into hospice care because they would prefer to be out of a hospital setting, and there’s really nothing more a hospital can do for them as far as treating their condition or healing them.

In a hospice facility, patients generally receive palliative care that’s intended to ease their pain. This can include strong painkillers, physical therapy and other treatments that lessen their symptoms. Patients in hospice facilities typically require more care than loved ones can adequately provide them at home.

When can a facility be held liable?

As in a nursing home, patients in hospice care can become the victims of neglect, abuse and medical malpractice. Even when this causes their death, family members often believe that they can’t file a legal claim against the facility because their loved one was going to die soon anyway.

That isn’t the case. The facility and potentially individual staff members can be held liable if their actions or negligence caused someone’s death.

If staffers weren’t correctly moving a person and they die as a result of a fall, for example, they failed to provide the required standard of care. The same is true if a patient dies from an infection because the staff was negligent in emptying their catheter bags. If a patient dies because they’re given the wrong medication or too much medication, that could be cause for a wrongful death claim.

Even if a patient doesn’t die as the result of negligence, abuse or malpractice, if they are harmed and their final days are made more painful or their life was further shortened, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against the facility.

Hospice care facilities and the people who work there owe a duty of care to their patients, just as people in hospitals and nursing homes do. When they fail in that duty, family members can often seek legal action, even if it’s posthumously on behalf of their loved one’s estate. Even if you can’t bring back a loved one, you can seek justice for them and potentially save others from harm.