Proving Abuse or Neglect in a Virginia Nursing Home

I took a stack of records home last night to look through them.

No, not music records: medical records and nursing home records. I spent time pouring through each page trying to decipher the following:

1. Did the nursing home recognize this patient’s needs?

2. Did they plan to provide for these needs?

3. Did they fail to provide for these needs?

4. Was the patient injured as a result?

I wasn’t looking for smoking guns or records that stated “all nurses were outside when the fall happened, having a cigarette so they were unable to tell how the patient fell.” You wont find such language in a medical record.

Here’s what I look for when I review medical records in a nursing home case.

First, I ask the following questions as I review the patient history and physician notes:

  • Was the doctor notified?
  • What did he or she do?
  • Were the ordered tests done?
  • Was the patient a fall risk?
  • What did they do to prevent falls?

Nursing home cases work alot like a large jigsaw puzzles. You must have all the pieces before you can see the full picture.

So when families call our office and ask if they have a case, I can never tell them YES or NO. I have to say “I need to see the records.” and not just a few of the records but all of the records. Then and only then can we determine whether the care provided was appropriate or whether abuse or neglect occurred.

And only when we have seen the records can we undergo step 2 which is hiring an expert to also review the records. And then and only then can we file suit when experts are on board. And then and only then can I say to a family, we have a case of abuse or neglect.

If you have a case or a situation you would like to discuss with one of our attorneys, please give us a call at (540) 985-0098. We are currently reviewing nursing home abuse and neglect cases in Blacksburg, Lexington, Martinsville, Abingdon, Radford and Roanoke.



Lauren Ellerman

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at