Old age is often associated with medical complications and you are bound to visit hospitals and doctors more often as you grow older. The reasons may vary- some suffer from heart disease, others have hypertension or diabetes and problems like vision loss, arthritis, bone loss and more are common. There is also a higher risk of life-threatening conditions such as cancer and stroke in the elderly. Whatever the problem may be, you would expect your doctor to give you good care and proper treatment. But the risk of malpractice and negligence is as high for the older patients as for anyone else. Rather, the implications can be more serious if something goes wrong. Obviously, you would want to know your rights in the context of medical malpractice cases. Let us explain to them in detail.
The delicate nature of elderly care
Compared to young patients, recovery is tough and time consuming for the elderly. Medical data shows that seniors often experience mental or physical deterioration in the hospital even if they are able to recover from the injury or illness they originally had. In fact, they may leave the hospital in a worse condition. This is the reason why doctors often avoid surgical intervention for them unless it is absolutely necessary. Another reason that makes elderly care more challenging is that infection can lead to serious complications and irreversible effects in them.
Deciding whether it negligence or just the aging process
Medical malpractice cases in the seniors are considered complex because it is often tough to decide whether their condition is just a mistake of the practitioner or just a part of the normal aging process. While identifying if medical negligence has actually happened, a few factors have to be borne in mind. These include:
- Pre-existing conditions, which can cause exacerbation of a new injury or complication
- Weak immunity, which makes the older patients vulnerable to infection and prolongs the recovery time
- Conditions related to the deterioration of mental health, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, which incapacitates them
- Greater medical bills because they may need additional medications and care services
Since these considerations commonly exist during elderly treatment, the medical professional, hospital, nursing home, or rehabilitation center may claim that any deterioration in the patient is a part of the aging process rather than negligence or malpractice.
Smaller compensation for seniors
Apart from the argument that aging may be the reason for complications in older patients, another challenge for the seniors is that they may be given smaller amounts in compensation. This happens because lost wages often make up a significant portion of the compensation for medical malpractice. The purpose is to compensate the victim for the loss of present and future income as a result of their injuries. As seniors are often retired, their income is not affected much by the injury. Even if they are working, their future earning potential is still limited because not many working years are left. So you cannot expect a settlement amount that a younger patient would typically get.
Considering these complexities, hiring a seasoned medical negligence attorney becomes all the more important for the seniors involved in such cases. They will make sure that you get the settlement you deserve.