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Elder Care and Nursing Home Abuse
You may have gone to great lengths and expense to find the right elder care facility or nursing home for a member of your family or someone you know. It is a traumatic and difficult decision to place someone in a nursing home and you can only hope that they will receive the best possible care. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is more prevalent than you might think. Often, due to a shortage of staff or staff that has not been adequately trained, the best nursing home care is not always readily available, and nursing home residents become victims of the "hidden crime": Elder Abuse.
Nursing Home Abuse and NeglectNursing home residents often require constant attention, and may not be able to communicate nursing home abuse or neglect from their caregivers. And they are unaware of elder care law. Nursing home neglect is often unreported because it isn't always physical abuse. Emotional, psychological, and financial abuse or exploitation is all too frequent.
Institutional entities include skilled nursing facility (SNF) or homes, foster homes, group homes, and board and care facilities. Abusers may be staff members, other patients and even visitors.
If a staff member refuses to allow family or friends to see the resident or insists on being present during the visit, it is possible that abuse is taking place. Other examples of abuse are:
Emotional: behavior and/or personality changes; withdrawn and uncommunicative; dementia; depression; anxiety and agitation.
Physical: Unexplained accident or injury; Decubitus Ulcers (Bedsores); Frozen joints; Contractures; Brittle bones or Fracture; Muscle atrophy; Burns; Fearfulness; Broken eyeglasses; Rapid, unexplained weight loss; Unwarranted use of physical restraints
Sexual: Unexplained venereal disease;Genital infections;Vaginal or anal bleeding;Torn or stained underclothing;Bruising around breasts, upper abdomen, or inner thighs
Nursing Home and Elder LawBy law, nursing homes must provide care to maintain the highest practicable physical, mental and psycho-social well-being of each resident. Federal and state laws were designed to protect nursing home residents and the abuse or neglect that occurs there and in other assisted living facilities. Many states also require that nursing homes meet individual state standards relating to the type and quality of care required.
Failure to comply with elder law has resulted in abuse that in turn caused illness, discomfort and death. This abuse is often referred to as "institutional abuse".
State Elder LawMost states have addressed the institutional abuse issue with laws that require doctors, nurses and other health care professionals to report suspected neglect to a designated state office. Laws further require nursing homes to investigate and report any abuse incidents that occur within their facility. Physicians, hospitals, nurses, therapists, aides, orderlies and administrators must provide adequate care, medical treatment and protection to the residents and patients in their facility.
State laws typically require a nursing home to be licensed in order to operate, provides for annual inspections, sets up a procedure for handling complaints, prohibits discrimination, and imposes sanctions for violation, such as licensure suspension and revocation. The state regulatory agency investigates any reports of alleged abuse or violations.
Federal Elder LawIn 1987, the federal government passed the Nursing Home Reform Act (NRA), and nursing homes that receive federal funds must comply with the act. The NRA sets standards for care, establishes a list of rights for residents, such as the right to be treated with dignity and to exercise self-determination, sets up a monitoring system for nursing homes, and specifies sanctions for non-compliance. The Act covers resident care and rights, staffing, the quality of care, restraints, privacy, and record keeping. The law applies to all the various types of nursing homes who receive funds under Medicaid or Medicare programs.
Under the Nursing Home Reform Act, nursing homes must also do the following in order to meet the basic tenet of the Act:
The report also showed a greater percentage of For-Profit nursing homes were cited for deficiencies than non-for-profit and government nursing homes from 2005-2007.
Nursing Home LawsuitA nursing home lawsuit can be filed by the resident (if that individual is judged to be mentally sound and capable of testifying), but most nursing home lawsuits are filed on behalf of the resident by a family member or other loved one. Elder care law and nursing home lawsuits can be complicated and are best handled by attorneys familiar with nursing home laws and regulations. If you know someone who has been abused in a nursing home or other facility, you should report abuse immediately and consider a nursing home lawsuit.
Elder Care Legal HelpIf a loved one has suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home, please click the link below to send your complaint to a lawyer to evaluate your claim at no cost or obligation.
Last updated on Nov-1-13
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