Georgia Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Lawyers
Nursing homes have a duty to provide professional care to every patient in their facility and to treat every resident with respect and dignity. Sadly, Georgia follows the national trend in falling short of that standard.
Despite the existence of state and federal laws establishing minimum standards for nursing care, nursing homes in Georgia have been shown to have a significant problem with neglect and safety issues. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that of the 364 nursing homes operating in the state, 141 (39 percent) provided their residents substandard care that was below the national average.
In addition, statistics reported in a University of California-San Francisco research study indicated that 41 percent of all Georgia nursing homes had deficiencies in quality of care, and 39 percent had an unsafe environment putting residents at risk for accidents.
The state of nursing home care in Georgia clearly demands the intervention of nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys. You must take action if you witness your loved one being abused or suspect abuse in a Georgia nursing home. Call a Georgia nursing home attorney to get help in investigating your concerns of abuse or neglect today.
The public generally assumes that nursing home facilities provide the care that adult children are unable to provide their aging parents due to work obligations, financial challenges, or other reasons. It seems incomprehensible that caregivers at a nursing home could ever engage in abuse or neglect of an elderly resident. Tragically, there is a serious hidden abuse problem that has existed in many nursing care facilities throughout Georgia and the rest of the U.S. for years.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, more than three million Americans reside in nursing homes, with nearly a million more in some sort of residential care facility. Nearly one in three of these homes fails to meet federal standards for safety and quality of care.
While the exact incidence of nursing home abuse and neglect remains unknown, experts believe it to be quite pervasive. NCEA and the Centers for Disease Control have concluded that due to challenges involved in gathering accurate data and deficiencies with state reporting, the vast majority of abuse likely goes unreported.
If your loved one was injured, mistreated, abused, or died unexpectedly from neglect while residing in a Georgia nursing facility, we urge you to contact the Georgia nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center today for a free case review so we can get your family the compensation you deserve.
Georgia Laws Protecting Nursing Home Residents
Nursing home residents in Georgia derive their legal protections from federal and state laws and regulations. The state has adopted its own bill of rights for residents of long-term care facilities that offer additional protections for nursing home patients.
- Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities (Ga. Code Ann. §31-8-100 (2015)) is part of the Care and Protection of Indigent and Elderly Patients chapter of the state health code. It enumerates over 20 specific rights that must be granted to nursing home residents, including many of the same rights contained in the federal Nursing Home Reform Act. It also requires facilities to furnish residents with a copy of their rights upon admission and post notices about the bill of rights in conspicuous locations.
- The Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act (Ga. Code Ann. §§30-5-1-10) defines abuse as the willful infliction of physical pain or injury, mental anguish, unreasonable confinement, or deprivation of essential services to nursing home residents. When it is believed that a nursing home resident is or may be the victim of abuse, medical staff and caregivers employed by a facility are obligated to report such abuse or signs of abuse to authorities, as are emergency medical personnel, coroners, therapists, employees of social service agencies, and even clergy members.
The Georgia Department of Community Health regulates nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and also issues rules and regulations that protect residents. Family members, friends, loved ones, or any other person who suspects that a resident is being abused, neglected, or exploited can report their concerns to the department. The victim may qualify for emergency services from a state adult protection agency.
Read more about legislative efforts in Georgia to expand protection for at-risk seniors here.
To learn more about protecting your loved one’s rights under either these statutes, contact our Georgia nursing home injury attorneys today for a free consultation.Federal Laws Governing Nursing Home Care
The U.S. Congress has enacted several laws designed to protect vulnerable elderly patients, which apply to all long-term care facilities in the United States:
- The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 established basic standards of care to promote the physical and mental well-being of elderly persons residing in nursing homes throughout the country, as well as outlined specific fundamental rights. The law requires nursing homes to accommodate the medical, physical, psychological, and social needs of residents.
- The Long-Term Care Ombudsman program created a network of advocates for nursing home residents in each state who investigate and attempt to resolve specific complaints involving abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a resident.
While the number of nursing homes across the country is growing in response to the booming elderly population, they are still struggling to keep pace with the rising need for nursing home beds, and Georgia is no exception. The high demand for nursing home beds has challenged many facilities in their ability to hire trained medical professionals, including nurses and nurse’s aides who are skilled in handling the elderly and infirmed.
As a result of understaffing, many of the needs of nursing home patients go unmet, leading to potentially serious health problems. However, nursing homes still have a duty to provide reasonable care and keep residents safe from abuse and neglect, and if they shirk that responsibility, they should be held accountable.
Following are some of the most common and preventable consequences of negligence in nursing homes, which can all lead to potentially life-threatening injury:
- Pressure sores. If a mobility-challenged individual cannot readjust their body position at least one time every two hours, they can easily develop a pressure sore (also referred to as bed sores or pressure ulcers) as prolonged weighted pressure against a mattress, pad, or cushion constricts blood flow to a specific bodily area. When left untreated, a bed sore can quickly become infected, causing serious and life-threatening consequences.
- Nursing home patients are at risk for developing bed sores when the medical staff fails to regularly turn or reposition the patient’s body. Advanced stage pressure sores are usually the result of negligence by untrained or unskilled nurses and nurses’ aides. Georgia law allows victims of neglect to recover damages for any medical or other costs associated with the wound, pain caused by the wound, and wrongful death when a patient dies from complications related to the wound.
- Falls are perhaps the most common and costly nursing home accidents. In fact, falls are the leading cause of death among patients over the age of 65 nationwide, and patients in nursing homes are at the greatest risk.
- Elderly patients are at extra risk of suffering serious injury in falls as a result of the aging process and associated medical conditions affecting bone density, motor function, or balance. Nursing facilities must take reasonable care so the existing risk of falls is not aggravated by negligence and a disregard for safety. A leading and preventable cause of falls in nursing homes is when patients are dropped by staff while being transferred between beds and wheelchairs or into and out of toilet/bath facilities. Transfers can easily result in a patient getting dropped or falling when untrained or careless staff fails to follow proper safety protocols.
- Nursing home falls can cause tragic and costly injuries including broken bones, brain damage, and other internal injuries. Nursing homes are liable for fall-related injuries if the fall resulted from inadequate supervision, safety hazards, dropped patients or other negligence.
- Medication errors result in some of the most easily preventable injuries in nursing homes across the nation. While they are not always life-threatening, some patients can suffer catastrophic harm simply because those responsible for their care failed to do their due diligence.
- There is a chain of individuals involved in the process by which a medication is prescribed, filled, and administered to a patient, from the prescribing physician to the pharmacist to the caregiver. If there is an error in any part of the chain, disaster can result. Unless the patient is unable to participate in their care due to neurological or other disabilities, they should be able to understand why certain medications have been prescribed to them and how they are to be dispensed.
- Some drugs have the potential to cause serious injury if not administered properly. Our Georgia nursing home injury lawyers always examine the medication chain when investigating a case involving medication errors to determine which parties along the way neglected their responsibility.
- Deliberate abuse. As horrible as it is to think about, elderly nursing home residents are uniquely susceptible to physical abuse. They are dependent, vulnerable, and incapable of defending themselves. Helpless nursing home patients are often victimized by fellow residents, outside visitors, and most egregiously, the very caregivers who are paid to look out for their welfare.
- If nursing home staff suspects a resident or other staff member of misconduct toward a patient, they are required to investigate the incident and separate the offender from the victim. Nursing facilities should also have adequate security measures in place to prevent outside visitors from entering the home and assaulting residents.
- Many victims of nursing home abuse remain silent out of shame or fear, so it is important that you recognize the signs of abuse and know when to act in order to protect your loved one.
The nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center LLC are committed to holding negligent medical facilities accountable for inferior care. We have experience with Georgia lawsuits against nursing homes and hospitals involving bed sores, falls, and abusive treatment. Put our expertise to work for you. Contact our firm for a free review of your case today.Pursuing a Wrongful Death Action for Georgia Nursing Home Negligence
Tragically, death sometimes results from an infected bed sore, fall, medical error, or other preventable consequence of negligent nursing home care. In many cases, the deceased patient suffers great pain and discomfort before their demise.
No patient in a medical facility should ever die from a preventable injury. When negligence is involved, the surviving family members are entitled to take legal action including filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the facility responsible for their loved one’s death.
Nursing Home Law Center LLC seeks justice for victims of nursing home neglect and abuse in Georgia. We take cases on contingency, meaning our fees are paid only when we secure a positive financial outcome in your wrongful death lawsuit for a loved one who died of nursing home negligence. Contact us today to discuss your case with a skilled Georgia nursing home attorney.Recognizing the Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
The warning signs of abuse and neglect are not always immediately apparent. While there are outward signs of abuse such as those discussed above, there are also more subtle indications that a vulnerable adult may not be receiving the care they need. Families must be able to recognize these signs so they can file a report with the state authorities and get the aged person needed medical attention and help.
Some of the following are red flags that a vulnerable adult has become the victim of abuse or neglect:
- Bruises or cuts
- Broken bones or other physical injuries
- Unexplained weight loss
- Anxiety or depression
- Emotional withdrawal or unusual fatigue
- Silence or discomfort around staff or other residents
- Unchanged or soiled bedding or clothing
- Unclean surroundings
- Spoiled or rotten food
In the event that your loved one ever verbally complains about abuse or neglect, it is important to take them seriously and follow up on it. But also be aware that vulnerable individuals may downplay, deny, or refuse to discuss incidents of abuse or neglect out of embarrassment or fear or as a way of coping with their situation. This is why it is extra important to be on the lookout for the signs listed above.
A Georgia nursing home abuse lawyer can help you investigate claims or suspicions of abuse and neglect. We can help you in filing a report as soon as possible and gather evidence to strengthen your claims.Get Help from Nursing Home Injury Lawyers Throughout Georgia
You are taking assertive action in protecting your loved one by getting in touch with one of our Georgia nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers. We are ready to pursue any claims of nursing home neglect and abuse.
Our attorneys are here to help families and residents throughout the state in such locations as:
Speak with an attorney from a Georgia nursing home abuse and neglect law firm today to receive the immediate help you need. We will stand by you every step of the way so your loved one can receive the care and compensation that he or she deserves.Georgia Statutes of Limitations
There is a limited time period in which you can bring a personal injury or wrongful death claim against a nursing home in Georgia. Under the statute of limitations (§9-3-33), a nursing home or other long-term care resident or his or her family members have only 2 years from the date the injury was discovered to file a legal action. If the abuse or neglect leads to a resident’s death, their family members have 2 years from the date of death to bring a wrongful death action. Claims for medical malpractice must be filed within 2 years from the date the cause of action was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered, but no more than 5 years from the date the injury occurred.Georgia State Resources
Georgia has a number of state agencies where you can obtain information on aging and long-term care issues as well as report concerns about nursing home abuse:
- Georgia Council on Aging
- Georgia Council of Community Ombudsmen
- Dept. of Human Services Division of Aging Services
- Aging & Disability Resource Connection