legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Nursing Homes in Georgia
According to Medicare.gov, there are 360 nursing homes in Georgia. While 220 (61%) Georgia nursing homes rank average or above on the level of care they provide, the remaining 140 (39%) facilities providing skilled nursing services have below-average and much below-average ratings. This substandard level of nursing care falls below the acceptable rating allowed by federal and state regulators at Medicaid and Medicare.
Our team of lawyers understands the painful decision when it's time to place a loved one under the care of medical professionals in a nursing home. We know it is difficult to think about unfamiliar nurses and nurse aides providing care to a loved one at their most sensitive time. Tragically, there are many cases of neglect and abuse of the elderly living in nursing homes in Georgia.
Often, these cases involve a nursing home providing significantly substandard care by not giving basic needs, including shelter, food, hydration, hygiene assistance, and medical care. Some patients are victims of neglect when their mobility is restricted or suffer severe complications and injuries involving dehydration, malnutrition, infections, facility-acquired bedsores, medication errors, or falls.
Federal and State Nursing Home Rules and Regulations
Federal and state inspectors routinely conduct surveys and investigations to ensure that long-term care facilities follow established rules and regulations. These investigations involve formally filed complaints where surveyors have had to intervene, impose monetary penalties, and act to ensure the long-term care home complies.
Below is a small sampling of some serious concerns and safety violations occurring in Georgia nursing homes as outlined on Medicare.gov.
Failure to Protect Nursing Home Residents From all Forms of Abuse
Abuse and mistreatment happen in all nursing homes in Georgia, even in the state's best nursing homes.
Statistics by the National Center on Elder Abuse indicate that upwards of 10% of all patients in nursing homes have experienced abuse. The information below concerning the different types of abuse that occur in nursing facilities includes:
- Failure to protect a resident from sexual abuse after video footage revealed a cognitively impaired resident touching and rubbing another cognitively impaired resident's breast while seated in a chair on four separate occasions, including one time when the abusive resident exposed their genitals that could have caused psychological harm. (AG Rhodes Home)
- Failure to report an incident of sexual abuse to the Georgia Department of community health involving a resident exposing their genitals to another patient. (AG Rhodes Home)
- Failure to initiate appropriate infection control policies and practices recommended by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and Georgia Department of Public Health to lessen the exposure to Covid-19 for all residents in the facility. (Center for Advanced Rehab at Parkside)
- Failure to ensure that one resident was protected from neglect by three caregivers who created Immediate Jeopardy when a resident became aggressive after being told they could not drink alcohol, threatening the staff with a knife. Nursing home staff escorted the resident from the facility, placed his belongings next to him in a plastic bag, and left him in 30° weather when the police arrived, saying the matter was civil and they could not put the resident out on the street. (Healthcare at College Park Nursing Home)
- Failure to ensure one resident was free from physical abuse after a patient sustained a laceration to the right temporal scalp requiring sutures after a patient struck the resident on the head with an assistive device requiring transfer to the emergency room. (Macon Rehabilitation and Health Care)
- Failure to protect a female resident from neglect by not making observations of the resident throughout one shift, during which time the resident eloped from the facility undetected and was not identified as missing for 10.5 hours when a family member arrived to visit and discovered the resident gone. The resident was found at a local hotel 4 miles away from the facility. (Pruitt Health – Brookhaven Nursing Home)
- Failure to ensure residents were free from physical abuse from a patient who had an altercation that resulted in actual harm when another resident sustained an eyebrow laceration requiring repair and an orbital floor closed fracture. (Pruitt Health – East side Nursing Home)
- Failure to develop policies for abuse, neglect, exploitation, and misappropriation of resident property resulted in not obtaining reference checks before new employees were hired, creating a potential danger to all 114 nursing home residents. (Renaissance Center for Nursing and Healing)
- Failure to effectively address a sexually aggressive behavior of a resident and failing to put effective interventions in place to protect three residents led to resident-to-resident sexual abuse. In one incident, a male resident was observed with his hands under another resident's shirt while sexually abusing a moderately cognitively impaired patient. (Winthrop Health and Rehabilitation Center)
- Failure to ensure that one resident was free from physical abuse by another patient after the facility failed to ensure that all nursing home residents were safe from potential abuse by not pursuing placement for the aggressive resident with documented behaviors of verbal and physical aggression toward others. (Woodstock Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)
Unauthorized use of Physical Restraints in a Nursing Homes in Georgia
Physical restraints are often used in skilled nursing homes in Georgia as a way to keep residents safe. However, when they are used without authorization, they can be a legal liability. In particular, the home could be held liable if a resident is injured or dies due to being physically restrained.
Should the nursing home not demonstrate that the use of restraints was necessary, then the use of restraints could be considered unauthorized and may subject the nursing home to civil or criminal penalties.
- Ignoring Requests: Ignoring nursing home residents' requests or needs can make them feel ignored and worthless, leading to a feeling of helplessness and, eventually, a loss of will to live.
- Not Responding to Cues: Staff who do not respond to a resident's cues or cries for help can cause that resident to feel anxious and abandoned.
- Making Demands Without Explanation: Staff who make demands on residents can leave nursing home patients confused and frustrated.
- Not Allowing Choices: When staff does not allow residents choices, it takes away their sense of control over their lives and leaves them feeling helpless.
- Refusing to Cooperate: Staff in Georgia nursing homes who refuse to cooperate with residents can make them angry and frustrated, leading to tension and conflict.
- Not Providing Assistance: Staff in nursing homes in Georgia who do not assist when the patient needs skilled nursing care can leave residents feeling frustrated and helpless.
- Failing to Respond to Needs: Staff who ignore or fail to respond to a resident's needs can cause that resident pain and suffering.
- Allowing Neglect by staff members can harm residents and cause them great pain and suffering.
- Using Restraints Without Authorization: Using restraints without authorization is illegal and can cause physical and emotional harm to skilled nursing facility residents.
- Abusing Restraints: Abuse of restraints by nursing home staff members is also illegal and can cause severe physical and emotional harm to residents
Preventable Falls in a Georgia Nursing Homes
With proper supervision, routine monitoring, and ongoing nursing home care, all falls in nursing homes are preventable. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), nursing homes must follow established protocols when providing supervision and assistance for residents requiring disability and aging services due to mobility challenges.
Any nursing staff failure leading to a slip and fall could indicate nursing home neglect. Some contributing factors to falls in nursing homes include:
- Poorly-maintained premises: If the nursing home is not well-maintained, with loose carpets and poor lighting, this can also lead to residents falling.
- Inadequate staffing: If there are not enough nurses on duty, residents may not be adequately monitored, leading to falls.
- Overcrowding: If the nursing home is too crowded, residents may be unable to get around quickly, leading to falls.
- Improperly-fitted bed rails: Bed rails that are not correctly fitted can easily come loose, resulting in a fall.
- Lack of supervision: If residents can wander unsupervised, they may trip and fall.
- Wet floors: If the nursing home floor is wet, residents can easily slip and fall.
- Slippery stairs: Stairs that are slippery can easily cause a fall.
- Carpet bumps: Uneven carpeting can cause residents to trip and fall.
- Poorly-lit areas: Areas that are poorly lit can be hazardous, leading to falls.
- Congestion: When there is too much furniture or equipment blocking the pathways, it can cause residents to trip and fall.
Why Nursing Homes In Georgia Must Implement Infection Prevention Protocols
All nursing homes regulated by Medicare and Medicaid services must implement an infection prevention and control protocol to minimize the spread of contagious diseases. However, some staff members at long-term care facilities create hazardous conditions in numerous ways, including:
- Not washing hands: Nursing staff must wash their hands after every patient interaction to prevent the spread of infection. Hand sanitizer should also be used when hands are not visibly dirty.
- Not using gloves: Gloves should be worn when contacting blood or other body fluids, handling trash, or cleaning surfaces.
- Not cleaning equipment: Equipment should be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
- Not covering mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing: Staff should cover their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing to prevent the spread of infection.
- Not separating sick from healthy patients: Patients who are sick should be separated from those who are well to prevent infection.
- Not reporting illnesses: Staff should notify of any conditions immediately so that appropriate measures can be taken to prevent the spread of infection.
Accident Hazards In Georgia Nursing Homes
Nursing homes in Georgia must take specific precautions to avoid accidents, such as installing handrails in bathrooms and providing non-slip mats in showers. However, many nursing homes do not take these precautions, which can lead to severe injuries for residents.
For example, one resident slipped and fell while getting out of the shower. The resident suffered a broken hip that required surgery. Another resident fell and hit her head after she stepped on a wet floor that had not been adequately cleaned. The resident suffered a traumatic brain injury and died several weeks later.
Nursing homes can take steps to ensure resident safety in various ways, including:
- Ensure the hallways, stairways, and entryways remain free from clutter: Any debris in crowded nursing home areas could create a tripping hazard.
- Keep walkways and common areas well-lit to avoid falls.
- Use non-slip mats in showers and bathrooms.
- Make sure all cords are out of reach to prevent accidental strangulation.
- Keep furniture in good condition and free of sharp edges that could cause injury.
- Secure loose rugs or carpeting to avoid trips and falls.
- Provide residents with sturdy walking aids to help with balance and stability.
- Monitor residents' medications to ensure they are not taking any medications that could increase the risk of falls.
- Educate residents about fall prevention and how to safely navigate their environment.
- Promote physical activity among residents to improve balance and strength.
- Regularly clean floors and wet surfaces to reduce the risk of slips and falls
- Implement a comprehensive fall prevention program that includes regular safety assessments and safety education for staff and residents
Most accidents at nursing homes in Georgia could have been prevented if the nursing home had taken proper safety precautions. If you or a loved one has been injured in a nursing home accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the nursing home for negligence.