Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Lawyers
Nursing homes are essential pieces of society in America today. As the population steadily ages, more and more families are placing their loved ones in nursing homes to be cared for by professionals who can provide them with the safest living environment possible. Nursing homes are crucial for helping families who can’t afford the time or money to care for an aging loved one on their own. However, nursing home negligence does happen.
Despite their prevalence and increasing importance in a baby boomer population rapidly approaching 65, nursing homes are not always as helpful as they could be. Nursing home negligence is a common occurrence in nursing homes around the world. It ranges from elder abuse to forgetfulness and neglect.
If your loved one is part of a nursing home facility and suffered from nursing home negligence, do not hesitate to act. To ensure the people who neglected your loved one get the punishment they deserve and that your loved one gets the compensation they need, reach out to a nursing home negligence lawyer at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP today.
In The News
“The reason why neglect happens in nursing homes is executives make business decisions that result in the frontline workers not having the tools – in nursing homes, the manpower – to deliver the services those workers are trained to deliver.”
– Andrew G Finkelstein
“I highly recommend hiring Jacoby & Meyers should you ever find yourself injured in an accident, and an individual or company needs to be held accountable for their negligence.” -C.J. ★★★★★
The Facts About Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Neglect
According to the National Council on Aging, elder abuse happens to about 5 million older Americans yearly, whether through nursing home neglect or another form of abuse. One in 10 Americans aged 60 or older has experienced some abuse, though only about one in 24 report their experience.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of elder abuse and neglect include:
- Unexplained injuries such as cuts, bruises, or sores.
- Unattended medical needs.
- Dehydration and/or unusual weight loss.
- Missing daily living aids (glasses, hearing aids, etc.).
- Poor hygiene.
- Unsanitary living conditions.
The Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services conducted a recent study that found that at least 22 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes suffered an adverse event during their stay, 59 percent of which were preventable. Neglect and abuse are entirely too common in nursing homes around the United States.
As you might imagine, nursing home neglect is not without consequences. Medicare alone spends at least $4.4 billion annually to help neglected or abused elders recover from injuries and other adverse effects. If your loved one suffered neglect or abuse in a nursing home, you might want to help them recover some of their lost money.
A nursing home negligence lawyer can help. A lawyer can determine how much your loved one has lost because of nursing home negligence, and they will work to recover as much as possible in financial compensation for you. Although some losses are impossible to remedy, even with financial compensation, winning compensation can help your loved one get back on their feet.
What Counts as Nursing Home Negligence?
If you suspect your loved one is a victim of nursing home negligence, consider contacting a nursing home negligence lawyer. But, before you do, ensure you know what you’re reporting.
Nursing home neglect is the failure to provide goods and services necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness. Neglect covers a wide range of actions and inactions by health care providers and others tasked with supporting and caring for elders when they’re too old to care for themselves.
Some examples of nursing home negligence include:
- The failure to provide adequate mental health, dental, or medical care.
- The failure to provide proper hygiene care such as helping with bathing, brushing teeth, using the toilet, grooming, dressing etc.
- The failure to monitor a patient’s health conditions.
- The failure to keep a patient’s room and living area sanitary.
- The failure to change and clean a patient after incontinence.
- The failure to provide adequate nutrition, water, or medication.
- The failure to provide a safe environment for a patient.
- The failure to help a patient move around the room or facility.
- The failure to provide enjoyable activities.
- The failure to provide essential medical care, therapy, or treatment.
Nursing home negligence leads to a range of severe consequences for the nursing home patient, from poor health to mental deterioration. If a patient doesn’t have adequate socialization and enjoyable daily activities, they could easily fall into depression and struggle to maintain the will to live. Negligence can easily lead to an illness or serious medical condition.
Standards of Care in Nursing Homes
Nursing homes have specific standards of care that they follow. The law also requires various standards for quality of care.
Standards of care that every nursing home facility must abide by include:
- Provide support with vision and hearing, including taking patients to appointments with vision and hearing specialists.
- Maintain skin integrity in patients by preventing pressure ulcers and providing foot care.
- Aid residents to reach the widest possible range of mobility to ensure comfort and maintain mobility.
- Manage a facility as risk-free as possible and provide help to prevent accidents.
- Support and keep sanitary any resident who deals with incontinence.
- Provide colostomy, urostomy, or ileostomy care as needed.
- Assist in proper nutrition and hydration.
- Administer parenteral fluids.
- Provide respiratory care.
- Care for and manage prostheses.
- Manage pain.
- Support and care for dialysis patients.
- Provide appropriately trauma-informed care.
- Maintain safe and effective bed rails as needed.
If nursing home staff members don’t provide these basic standards of care or neglect similar duties, they can be held responsible for breaking the law and harming nursing home patients. If you notice one or more staff members disregarding their duties, they may be acting negligently.
Common Infections that Spread in Nursing Homes
Nursing homes are a common site of infection, especially if caretakers neglect their patients due to limited or incompetent staff members.
Some of the most common nursing home infections include:
- Urinary tract infections.
- Skin and soft tissue infections such as the commonly known Staph infection.
- Pneumonia or other respiratory infections.
Each of these infections is easily preventable, but because of nursing home negligence, many patients suffer from preventable infections and diseases annually. Another serious problem is the overuse of antibiotics in nursing homes, which can lead to various antibiotic-resistant infections such as Clostridium difficile (C-diff), Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE), Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), etc.
If your loved one is a victim of any of these infections, check into the conditions in their nursing home and speak with the staff members to rule out the possibility of nursing home negligence.
What to Do if You Notice Nursing Home Negligence
Knowing what to do to help those suffering from nursing home negligence can be hard. However, don’t leave a nursing home patient alone if you suspect they are suffering.
A few steps you can take to help right away include:
- Document everything you see in as much detail as possible.
- Connect with the patient’s family and friends to ensure that everyone who loves them is well aware of what’s going on.
- Take note of staff members, nurses, and others who can act as witnesses or be held responsible for the neglect.
- Speak to the patient, if possible, to get an idea of what they’re dealing with, how long it’s been going on, and what they want from you.
- If necessary, remove the patient immediately.
- Inform the state of the negligence taking place in the facility.
- Contact a nursing home negligence lawyer.
The Elder Justice Act of 2009 and laws passed in individual states require individuals such as healthcare providers and law enforcement officials to report elder abuse and neglect. However, even if the law does not require you to report it, you should still report elder abuse or neglect to prevent further harm.
How You Can Prove Nursing Home Negligence
If you determine that a nursing home neglected your loved one, it falls upon you and others who have evidence to support you to prove that the nursing home staff breached their duty of care.
To provide sufficient evidence to make a legal claim against a nursing home, you must prove:
- Prove that the accused nursing home staff member or members owed your loved one a duty of care (often established by examining their contract and the laws regulating nursing home staff).
- Prove that the staff member neglected their duty of care.
- Prove that the neglect of their duty caused your loved one harm or resulted in an accident.
- Prove that the accident and neglect led to serious consequences and injuries for your loved one.
To prove these elements of negligence, you must obtain evidence, witness statements, and various medical records. You must keep all documents you get when signing a loved one into a nursing home or when you come for visits or events. Also, try to find witnesses who are sympathetic to your loved one and will watch out for them in case of any situation of neglect or abuse.
Why You Need a Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer
If you’re caring for a loved one in a nursing home and fear that they’re suffering from the effects of nursing home neglect, you may be wondering what you can do to get justice. That’s where a nursing home negligence lawyer comes in.
Once you find out about nursing home negligence and help your loved one find the security they need, contact a nursing home negligence lawyer. Such a lawyer can help you gather the necessary evidence to prove that the nursing home neglected your loved one. Your lawyer can also help you fight unreasonable nursing homes and insurance companies who are out to save money and avoid owning up to mistakes.
Handling a nursing home negligence claim without help can be terrifying and stressful for you and your entire family. Thankfully, a lawyer can help you confidently manage the claim with as little stress as possible. They can support you and your family as you search for another care facility, gather records and evidence, and seek the justice and compensation you deserve from the at-fault nursing home.
Nursing home negligence is not acceptable. Even if you feel it will be impossible to prove, working to establish elder abuse or negligence enhances nursing home safety for all elders. A nursing home abuse lawyer can help you prove what seemed impossible and protect patients from nursing home negligence.
At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, our team has over 50 years of experience fighting for victims of negligence and abuse, whether in nursing homes or other similar facilities. We dedicate our careers to fighting for at-risk communities and supporting our neighbors in their legal battles.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]:
How can financial exploitation be prevented in nursing homes?
Financial exploitation happens when someone illegally or improperly uses someone else’s money or belongings for their personal use. It is the fastest growing form of elder abuse in nursing homes. Here are some steps nursing home residents can follow to prevent financial exploitation:
- Know your rights
- Protect your financial information
- Review your financial information regularly
- Report any suspicion of financial abuse
What are the physical and psychological consequences of nursing home elder abuse?
The physical consequences of elder abuse may include injuries, welts and wounds. A victim may experience disturbed sleep, dehydration and malnutrition, persistent physical pain, and increased susceptibility to new illnesses. Seniors who are abused have a 300% higher risk of death when compared to those who have not been mistreated.
The psychological consequences may include high levels of stress and depression. Other potential psychological consequences may include an increased risk of developing fear and anxiety reactions, learned helplessness, post-traumatic stress disorder among others.
What should I do if I suspect nursing home abuse or neglect?
If you notice any sign of nursing home abuse, such as unexplained injuries, lethargy or unresponsiveness, a sudden change in weight, obvious signs of poor hygiene, or any out of the ordinary behaviors, here are some things you can do right away.
- Document what happened with as many details as possible. Write down exactly what you witnessed, the room number or other location of the abuse or neglect, and the exact date and time of the incident.
- Write down the names of all staff in the area and administrators on duty. They may become important witnesses later, even if they were not directly involved in the incident.
- Contact the resident’s loved one. If you have contact information for the resident’s relative or friend, you should reach out to them and tell them what you saw.
- If possible, talk to the resident. You don’t need to say that you think you witnessed abuse or neglect, but you can ask if the resident needs anything. By doing this, you may be able to determine if the resident has any critical needs that require immediate attention.
- Inform the state. It is important to report any alleged abuse or neglect so that a full investigation can be done. You will not be liable if you make your report in good faith, even if you are wrong.
Who is responsible for reporting elder abuse?
The Elder Justice Act of 2009, as well as other federal and state laws, deals with elder abuse. In New York, only mandatory reporters are required to report possible abuse. This includes health care workers and law enforcement. Otherwise, there is no requirement for other individuals to report alleged elder abuse.
Why do nursing home neglect and abuse frequently go unreported?
An appalling number of cases of neglect, abuse, and exploitation go unreported. According to the U.S. Justice Department, caregiver neglect is the most unreported type of abuse. Only an estimated one out of every 57 cases are reported.
Many nursing home residents are physically and/or mentally frail. Their ability to see, hear, or think may have declined. Therefore, they are unable to protect themselves or demand proper care. When the decline is gradual, it may be hard to recognize abuse. An abusive caregiver may claim that allegations of abuse are just a symptom of mental deterioration. Understaffing is a serious problem in nursing homes and contributes to the problem.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, residents who are dissatisfied with their care sometimes hesitate to report neglect or abuse because they do not want to get the staff member in trouble. Residents and family members also fear that reporting the situation will further jeopardize the victim’s well-being.
When nursing home residents speak up, facility management often dismisses their allegations or staff accuse them of being troublemakers. Staff members who are aware of the situation may fail to report incidents of abuse and neglect due to fear of reprisals. They are afraid that their supervisor may reduce their work hours or that they may lose their job. These fears often lead to a high turn-over rate among nursing home staff.
Standard of Care Regulations
If a nursing home accepts Medicare, the nursing home must follow Federal Regulations regarding the standard of care. One of these regulations, 42 CFR sec. 483.25 (h), requires that:
- The resident environment remains as free of accident hazards as possible; and
- Each resident receives adequate supervision and assistance devices to prevent accidents.
If the nursing home fails to comply with these regulations, and a resident is injured, the nursing home may bear liability for damages.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect is Not Acceptable
When an act of neglect or abuse harms a resident, the nursing home may be legally responsible and a personal injury lawsuit or medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed. The person filing the lawsuit must prove that the nursing home owed a duty of care to the resident; that the nursing home breached the duty of care; and that the resident’s harm was a result of the breach.
If someone suspects nursing home negligence, they should immediately begin documenting the facts. Take photos of any physical evidence of harm, before the injuries fade or disappear. Individuals living in nursing homes may have impaired memories, so detailed notes about what happened may be useful. It is important to collect and preserve evidence of the harm while it can be found.
Every claim for nursing home negligence does have a deadline, known as a statute of limitations. This statute requires that any legal action be filed within a certain amount of time. A qualified attorney can advise you on the time limits for your claim.
Contact the Nursing Home Lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, Today
If you are concerned that an elderly loved one may suffer abuse or neglect, you may feel frightened, angry, or unsure about what to do. Of course, if the victim is in danger, you should take immediate action.
People live in nursing homes for many reasons, such as declining mental or physical health—and we protect defenseless residents from nursing home abuse and neglect.