Duty of Care Owed by Chattanooga Nursing Home Facilities

Nursing homes in Chattanooga operate under the oversight of the Tennessee Office of Health Care Facilities, which also governs the management of hospitals and other medical care facilities.

As regulated, professional providers of health care, nursing homes and the employees who work for them owe a duty of care to their patients. When they fail to live up to their responsibilities and patients suffer harm as a result, they may be held liable with the help of an attorney.

Before liability can be established, however, it is important to understand the duty of care owed by Chattanooga nursing home facilities. The standard varies somewhat depending on circumstances, but an overview of the general duty of care is described below.

Sources of Nursing Home Obligations

The obligations nursing homes have to care for patients can arise from a number of different sources. One of the most important, and a source that may vary from patient to patient, is the contract agreed to between the nursing home and the patient or the patient’s family at the time of admission. This contract will include a number of terms and obligations that both parties must fulfill or the agreement will be considered in breach and may become unenforceable.

Nursing homes also have a duty to follow state and county laws as well as regulations set by Chattanooga. Many of these laws, such as the federal Nursing Home Reform Act, impose a duty of care on nursing home and other elder care facilities.

Moreover, as members of the medical profession, caregivers and the owners and managers of the facility have duties as part of their licensure. For example, doctors owe a certain duty of care by virtue of their license to practice medicine. Those that fail to fulfill this duty may lose their license and their status as doctors.

What the Duty of Care May Include

Federal law requires skilled a nursing facility to “care for its residents in such a manner and in such an environment as will promote maintenance or enhancement of the quality of life of each resident.” (42 U.S.C. §1395i-3). The specific duty of care varies according to the patient’s needs, contractual obligations, and other factors, but in general, nursing homes are expected to provide:

  • An environment that is sanitary and safe
  • Appropriate medical care
  • Measures to prevent injuries such as falls
  • Measures to prevent abuse from staff
  • Attention to physical needs

Some of these duties correspond to requirements under state law. For instance, Section 33-2-1202 of the Tennessee code requires facilities to perform a criminal background check on both employees and volunteers who either have direct contact with patients or direct responsibility for patients.

If a nursing home fails to follow this procedure for an employee who was later found to have abused a patient, this failure could be used as evidence of negligence on the part of the facility.

Learn More About the Duty of Care Owed in a Particular Situation

The specific duty of care owed by Chattanooga nursing home facilities varies according to circumstances. For instance, the standard duty of care for safely moving patients is different when patients are being quickly evacuated due to a fire than when patients are being moved for routine changing of bed linens. In addition, contractual obligations affect the duty of care owed to a particular patient.

To learn about the duty of care owed in a specific situation, it may be helpful to consult a personal injury attorney who is familiar with nursing home standards. If it is suspected that a nursing home is violating the duty of care, prompt action may be necessary to protect your loved one’s health and safety.