Dental care is critical to the health of nursing home residents. According to the Kentucky Dental Association, “Nursing home and the homebound elderly, perhaps more than any other population groups, need complete, comprehensive and routine dental services to maintain an adequate level of oral health.” Dental care includes daily oral hygiene and seeing a dentist for cleanings and procedures. The failure to provide appropriate dental care may result in pain and health complications for nursing home residents.
Why Some Nursing Home Residents Don’t Get Adequate Dental Care
Good oral hygiene is challenging for nursing home residents because many of them:
Have trouble managing their dental care.
Older adults may have dementia, or they may be physically unable to brush or floss their teeth.
Are unable to get to a dentist.
Nursing home residents may not be well enough to travel to a dentist’s office, or they may not have a family member to arrange transportation for them.
Don’t realize there is a need for dental care.
Nursing home residents, their families, and their caregivers may believe that the elderly no longer need to take care of their teeth. Dental care, however, is important to a person’s health at every age.
Have trouble paying for dental care.
Medicare and private health insurance do not usually include most dental care.
Despite these obstacles, nursing homes have a duty to provide reasonable care to residents.
What Nursing Homes Need to Do About Residents’ Dental Care
Federal law requires nursing homes to assess a resident’s need for dental care as part of the initial nursing home admission assessment. Then, as part of the nursing home’s ongoing duty of care to each resident, the nursing home must:
- Help with daily oral hygiene, such as tooth brushing, as needed
- Ensure residents receive routine dental care
- Ensure residents who require emergency dental care receive it
The failure to do any of these things could be considered negligence and could have devastating results.
What Could Happen Without Proper Dental Care
The failure to provide reasonable dental care could cause injuries such as:
- Difficulty eating, leading to malnutrition
- Difficulty speaking which can lead to frustrating communication problems
- Dangerous infections that can become systemic and potentially life-threatening
When one or more of the complications occur because a nursing home failed to provide or arrange for reasonable dental care, the resident who is hurt may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Damages for the Failure to Provide Dental Care
In addition to the physical consequences of failing to provide dental care, as described above, there may be significant financial and emotional damages caused by the nursing home’s negligence. These damages may include compensation for:
Medical and dental bills made necessary by the nursing home’s negligence.
Any health care costs that were caused by the failure to help with daily dental hygiene or with the failure to provide dental services may be compensable.
Physical pain and emotional suffering.
You may not have a bill for these damages, but they may be significant, and you can prove their value.
Any other costs associated with your injury.
If you, or your loved one, had other expenses because of your injury, those expenses may also be part of your legal and financial recovery.
Kentucky law allows you to recover these damages if a nursing home is negligent, but your recovery will not be automatic.
Fight for a Fair Recovery of Nursing Home Negligence Damages
You will have to convince the nursing home, the nursing home’s insurer, or the court that the nursing home was negligent and that you suffered a specific amount in damages. This can be challenging to do on your own, but our experienced and dedicated nursing home injury law firm is here to help you.
Has Your Loved One Been Injured In A Nursing Home?
If you believe your loved one is being subjected to nursing home abuse you need to speak with our Kentucky nursing home abuse lawyers as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 888.450.4456 to schedule a free consultation.