Nursing Home Neglect / Elder Abuse
In 1999, an investigation by the U.S. General Accounting Office showed that 25% of the nation's nursing homes "had serious deficiencies that caused actual harm to residents or placed them at risk of death or injury." Frequent news stories remind us of horrible injuries and death caused by mistreatment and neglect of our senior citizens in nursing homes that care more about profits than people.
With over 1.5 million people living in nursing homes throughout the United States, abuse and neglect have become widespread problems. Most nursing home residents are completely dependent for their daily needs upon the proper staffing and training of nursing home employees. Because many nursing homes are understaffed today, they fail to provide the simplest needs to the residents, who are often found lying in their own urine or feces, have severe bed sores, are malnourished or dehydrated, are over medicated or under medicated and ignored or left in bed all day. All of these are forms of neglect.
Nursing home/elder abuse may include any of the following:
- Assault (including sexual assault)
- Unreasonable or unnecessary restraints
- Deprivation of food and water
- Under or over use of medication not approved by a treating physician.
Neglect is different from abuse. It can be defined as failing to care for a resident to the degree that a reasonable person in the same position would exercise. Neglect may include any of the following:
- Physical neglect: Disregard for the necessities of daily living
- Medical neglect: Lack of care for existing medical problems
- Failure to timely report changes in a resident's condition to a physician
- Failure to prevent or treat dehydration, malnutrition and decubitus ulcers (pressure sores)
- Improper infection care
- Failure to protect from health and safety hazards
- Failure to monitor the whereabouts of a resident
There are ways in which you can help in remedying these situations. You can:
- Visit the resident frequently. Visit at different times and days so that you can see that care is being properly given at all times.
- Talk to the staff about your concerns, to the nurses, doctors, or aides.
- Contact the appropriate state agency where necessary. In each state, there is a division or department which deals with enforcement of nursing home regulations. This agency investigates complaints of family members. You can discover which agency has this oversight function by talking to someone at the nursing home administrator's office.
Medicare regulations require regular assessments and the formulation of nursing care plans to adequately treat each resident's needs. Acceptance of a Medicare patient obligates a nursing home to observe these regulations and provide the best possible medical and social care for each resident.
If you believe that a loved one has been abused or neglected by the nursing home staff charged with his or her care, contact an attorney at The Glassman Law Firm, P.C. for a prompt free consultation.
Please see our Nursing Home Neglect / Elder Abuse Frequently Asked Questions.
Please see our Nursing Home Neglect / Elder Abuse Resources / Links.
For more information on Nursing Home Negligence click here to view Mr. Glassman's interview on ABC's "Legal Minds."
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