When Nursing Homes Make Assumptions About Advanced Directives

a nurse holding a senior's hand, nursing home abuse lawyer

In Illinois, nursing homes are required to respect the wishes of their residents about the end-of-life care and if they don’t, they may face substantial penalties and can be held liable for negligence. Unfortunately, nursing homes across the country sometimes provide care that is unwanted when people have advance directives like DNR orders in place. In other cases, nursing homes have been cited for failing to provide care when residents had full resuscitation orders or no orders in place. When nursing homes fail to recognize or follow these orders, their acts or omissions may constitute nursing home negligence.

What Are DNR Orders?

As people grow older and begin to think about end-of-life planning, some choose to maintain control over the types of medical treatment that they want for their end-of-life care. People often elect to draft do-not-resuscitate orders, which direct medical professionals and nursing home staff to avoid resuscitation attempts when their heart and/or breathing stops. When there is a valid DNR in place, nursing home staff should not perform CPR or engage in other actions to prolong the lives of residents. Similarly, some people elect that medical staff should do everything they can to resuscitate them. Resident wishes are typically noted in their medical records. When these wishes are ignored, nursing homes may face civil penalties from the state and may be liable to the patients and their families.

Examples of DNR Violations

In New York, a woman who had a valid DNR order in place was resuscitated by nursing home staff when they found her without a pulse and unresponsive. The nursing home staff performed CPR and sent her to the hospital in an ambulance despite the fact that she was wearing a special bracelet and had a marking on her bed indicating that she had a DNR in place. The nursing home was cited by the state. In Florida, a 75-year-old man who had a valid DNR order in place was resuscitated with a defibrillator and CPR by nursing home staff. The home was fined $16,000 as a result. Nursing homes may be held liable for negligence when they ignore the end-of-life wishes of residents.