I have had cases where a person suffers from a bed sore that is so large the spinal column is visible, and yet the cause of death listed on the death certificate states, “natural causes”, or “dementia”, or “Alzheimer’s”. While we may still pursue a claim to hold those responsible for the large and painful wound accountable, it is frustrating to the family that the bed sore is not listed on the death certificate.
We are currently prosecuting cases where had a resident not been taken to the hospital and died in the nursing home, the true cause of death would have never been discovered.
Unfortunately, this situation is far from unusual. As reported in ProPublica, suspicious elder deaths are rarely investigated. According to the article, autopsies performed on seniors are increasingly rare even though the United States population aged 65 and older has grown. From 1972-2007, the number of autopsies performed on seniors dropped from 37% to just 17% percent. Additionally, of the 1.8 million seniors who died in 2008, autopsies were performed on only 2%, and only performed on 1% for those elderly who passed away in nursing homes or care facilities.