legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home negligence is a serious problem affecting thousands of Americans annually. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 2,500 people died in US nursing homes in 2019 alone. That's roughly one person every two days.
Many nursing homes fail to provide safe environments for their residents. They also often neglect to properly monitor and supervise them, leading to injuries and deaths among residents due to nursing home negligence.
Do you suspect your loved one is the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse? The nursing home abuse lawyers at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC, are legal advocates for all residents harmed by others. Our nursing home neglect and abuse lawyers have helped many older adults and their families get compensation for their suffering in a nursing facility.
Call our personal injury law firm at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone number), use the contact form for immediate legal advice, and schedule a free case review. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
What Is Nursing Home Neglect?
According to the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nursing home neglect is a tragic but all too common issue in the United States. In 2017, over two million abuse allegations were reported, including elder abuse and neglect cases in nursing facilities nationwide.
And while many people associate nursing home neglect with physical abuse, it can also occur without physical contact.
For example, negligence can be in the form of medical neglect. It might include instances where a caregiver doesn't provide enough food, water, or medication, clean up spills, or adequately supervise a nursing home resident.
According to the National Center for Victim Services, 15.3% of elder abuse complaints involve nursing home neglect. Most nursing home centers don't mistreat their vulnerable residents.
Unreported Cases of Negligence
Nursing homes prevent neglect by providing adequate staffing and by training caregivers to recognize signs of elder abuse and negligence. However, even well-intentioned caregiving facilities sometimes fall short when protecting their vulnerable residents.
In addition, nursing home neglect often goes unreported because victims fear retaliation from facility staff. Call our law firm for a free case review if you suspect your loved one has suffered mistreatment, such as elder abuse or lack of essential medical care.
We have extensive experience representing clients who have suffered from nursing home neglect. Your lawyer will investigate your case thoroughly and aggressively to determine if filing a nursing home neglect lawsuit is necessary.
Nursing Home Neglect Versus Abuse
Nursing home neglect involves failing to provide necessary care, whereas abuse is intentional injury or maltreatment.
Nursing facilities must report suspected incidents of elder abuse or neglect of older adults. If you believe another person has harmed your loved one, call 911 immediately. You can file a complaint against the abuser with local authorities.
What Causes Nursing Home Neglect?
Nursing home neglect occurs when a resident suffers serious harm due to a lack of proper care. While many factors contribute to nursing home neglect, inadequate staffing is one of the most common reasons. A study published in 2018 found that almost 20% of nursing home residents suffer abuse and neglect annually.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services defines "nursing home neglect" as "any act or failure to act on the part of a facility or its employees that creates a risk of substantial physical or psychological injury, disease, impairment, or death."
Negligence in a nursing facility includes things like failing to prevent falls, failing to protect against infections, or failing to ensure adequate nutrition.
Neglect in nursing homes can take many forms, including:
Nursing home staffing levels are often inadequate, leading to poor supervision and poor quality of care, including mental health and medical neglect.
A study published in 2018 found that about one-third of caregiving facilities had fewer nursing home employees, including nurse aides and registered nurses, per patient day than recommended by federal regulations.
Negligent Hiring Practices
Nursing homes across America often fail to properly screen potential employees. They may not conduct adequate background searches, check references or interview applicants. Some nursing homes don't require applicants to take standardized tests like the GRE or ACT (American College Testing).
Some nursing homes simply ignore federal laws requiring them to ensure workers aren't convicted felons. These lapses put nursing home residents at risk of nursing home abuse and neglect. One study found that nearly 15% of nursing home staff working in skilled nursing facilities had histories of prior incarceration.
Poor Training in Nursing Homes
According to the World Health Organization, the death rate in nursing homes is higher than in hospitals, which is a problem. The US Department of Health and Human Services says there are more than one million deaths yearly among people 65 or older — nearly one-third of all deaths. But only about 10 percent of those deaths occur in nursing homes.
Neglect in nursing homes partly occurs because they don't always follow standard procedures when caring for their residents. For example, they might use outdated equipment or fail to implement new safety measures.
The National Center on Elder Abuse provides information about reporting nursing home neglect.
Lack Of Oversight by State Agencies
Many states don't adequately oversee nursing homes. That means they cannot enforce standards and hold nursing homes accountable if they violate them.
For instance, Illinois requires nursing homes to have an infection control plan. However, the state doesn't inspect these plans until after a resident dies from an infection or suffers significantly declining health.
Types of Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing homes must provide high-quality care for older adults with dementia, Alzheimer's disease, physical disabilities, or other physical and mental health conditions. However, there are many ways nursing homes fail to meet those standards.
Nursing home neglect occurs partly due to poor management practices. Other times it's due to negligent acts committed by employees.
In either case, the consequences can be devastating. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, one out of every five deaths among seniors living in a caregiving facility is caused by nursing home neglect.
If you suspect that a loved one is suffering from nursing home neglect, here are some signs of mistreatment to watch for in your family's demeanor and overall appearance:
- Poor personal hygiene: Residents should bathe regularly and keep clean, including washing hands with soap before meals and using hand sanitizer.
- Lack of medical attention: Nursing home centers should ensure that residents receive adequate medical treatment. They should monitor vital signs such as blood pressure and temperature regularly. Otherwise, the repeated lack of a doctor in the facility could be considered medical neglect.
- Unsafe environment: Nursing homes and assisted living facilities should protect residents from falls and infections. They should make sure that rooms are well-lit and free of clutter. A hazardous environment is nursing home neglect.
- Nursing home abuse: Staff members must prevent elder abuse and neglect. They should keep records of incidents of nursing home abuse and report them to law enforcement officials immediately, as required by law.
- Unsanitary environment: Residents should not live in unsanitary areas. All areas of the nursing home should be kept clean and sanitized. Additionally, nursing home patients with mobility issues should be able to be washed with assistance at regular intervals.
- Disrespectful treatment: Nursing home staff members should treat residents respectfully. They should avoid yelling and screaming at residents. Unacceptable verbal communication is blatant nursing home abuse.
- Denial of medical needs: Nursing homes should give residents all necessary medications.
If your loved one has been neglected or suffered nursing home abuse at an assisted living facility, contact our experienced nursing home neglect lawyers today for a free legal case review. We will help you pursue justice on behalf of your family member.
Signs & Symptoms of Elder Neglect in Nursing Home Residents
Nursing home centers and assisted living facilities are supposed to provide quality care for seniors and prevent elder abuse. But many elderly residents aren't getting the best medical attention because of poor staffing levels and inadequate training.
Pressure ulcers, broken bones, bruises, burns, dehydration, and urinary tract infections can occur if a nursing home resident isn't receiving proper care.
If you suspect your loved one is being neglected, here are some warning signs:
- Bruises: Bruising occurs when blood vessels break and leak blood into surrounding tissues. It's most common in areas where bone meets muscle, including the arms, legs, back, neck, and face.
- Unexplained injuries: Unwitnessed falls and altercations could lead to unexplained injuries, including physical harm like sores, welts, and cuts.
- Broken bones: A fractured hip, broken leg, or skull fracture could indicate nursing home abuse or a negligent fall.
- Dehydration: When people lose too much water through their urine or sweat or don't get enough fluids daily, they become dehydrated.
- Lack of nutrition: People who don't receive adequate nutrition often suffer from weight loss, weakness, and low energy levels.
- Unsanitary conditions: Poor hygiene can spread disease-causing bacteria throughout a nursing home.
- Malnutrition: Malnourished residents have difficulty eating correctly and digesting food. They're more likely to get sick and require hospitalization.
- Physical abuse includes hitting, kicking, shaking, pinching, biting, burning, choking, and restraining.
- Sexual abuse includes non-consensual fondling, oral sex, anal sex, and rape. It is the most heinous type of abuse.
- Falls happen when someone loses their balance. Weak muscles, lack of coordination, dementia, medications, or vision problems can cause falls.
- Medication errors: Medications prescribed for older adults can be confusing and dangerous. Errors can result in side effects like diarrhea, constipation, drowsiness, hallucinations, confusion, and death.
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are infections of the bladder, urethra, kidneys, or prostate gland. Symptoms include frequent urination, painful urination, cloudy urine, fever, chills, and general discomfort.
- Isolation: The resident's health might be compromised by emotional neglect when staff isolates them from social interaction with other residents. Elder neglect is often caused by abusive behavior.
- Physical or chemical restraints are a clear sign of abuse. They happen when staff restraints the resident with no apparent medical benefits, which can be physical or chemical.
Consequences of Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing homes are supposed to provide quality care for residents, but many nursing facilities fail to meet basic standards of cleanliness. A recent survey found that nearly half of nursing home centers and assisted living facilities had been cited for patient safety and infection control violations.
Some nursing homes fail to provide adequate care because of poor housekeeping practices.
Staff neglecting residents can lead to a lack of proper cleaning and numerous personal hygiene problems, including:
- Bad odor
- Dirty skin
- Ill-fitting, unclean or damaged clothing
- Unclean bed linens
- Infection risks
The consequences of nursing home neglect can include:
- Physical injuries
- Emotional neglect leading to distress
- Personal injury
- Loss of independence
Steps to Prevent Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Nursing homes can be one of the most dangerous places for older adults to be exposed to elder neglect and mistreatment. The problem is that some nursing facilities don't take proper precautions to avoid neglect, leaving residents vulnerable to elder abuse.
Nursing home neglect or abuse is generally caused either by inaction or action. Inaction can include failure to provide adequate staffing levels or training, inadequate screening of prospective employees, lack of proper communication among nursing home staff members, or insufficient oversight of residents.
Mistreatment includes physical abuse, sexual assault, drug use, financial exploitation, and mental illness. These incidents can lead to serious injuries, infections, falls, dehydration, malnutrition, and even death.
Steps to prevent abuse and neglect include:
- Criminal background checks: A criminal background check can help identify people who aren't suitable for elder care positions and those with a history of neglecting residents.
- Staff training: Staff must understand how to handle every medical emergency and recognize warning signs of nursing home neglect. They should receive regular training about safety issues and know what to do if they see suspicious elder abuse.
- A system of checks and balances: The facility should have an internal review process that allows nursing home staff members to report any concerns. It also should have an external review process that involves independent agencies.
- Regular inspections: Facilities should be inspected regularly to meet state requirements. Inspectors look at whether staff members are appropriately trained, whether the facility has enough supplies, and whether it provides safe conditions for residents.
- Ensure there are enough staff members on duty: Nursing home centers often hire temporary workers when they're shorthanded, meaning fewer staff members could be available to watch over elderly residents during peak hours to ensure their well-being.
- Have a plan for when residents become ill or injured to ensure that the person receives appropriate medical treatment.
- Provide adequate supervision and training for staff members: There are ways to prevent nursing home neglect. Nurses and nurse aides should be able to spot problems before they lead to harm. Staff members should be trained to respond appropriately to situations such as when a resident becomes agitated or aggressive. Failure to notice this behavior change is a form of nursing home neglect.
How Do I Report Nursing Home Neglect?
Family members often cannot provide a loved one's medical care or personal hygiene needs at home or do not see the warning signs of declining health. Nursing facilities provide medical and hygiene assistance in a safe environment.
Many residents are a part of aging America living in nursing home facilities due to physical or mental health problems.
Nursing home centers are required under federal law to provide adequate medical care to residents. But it doesn't take much nursing home negligence or elder abuse to put someone at risk. Residents might fall out of bed, suffer a broken hip, or even die because they did not receive proper care.
According to National Adult Protective Services, neglect can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or socioeconomic status. And it happens every day across the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over half of nursing home residents experience some form of mistreatment during their lives.
Report Nursing Home Neglect
If you suspect your loved one is suffering some form of elder mistreatment, don't wait. Family members must report nursing home neglect and make elder abuse allegations immediately. Your action could save their life.
Nursing home administrators must quickly resolve any issue compromising the resident's health, including physical, emotional, or mental well-being.
All family members, visitors, nursing home workers, and other residents can file elder abuse complaints with local authorities, such as police departments or county prosecutors. Or report abuse by calling a hotline staffed by trained advocates at the state's Adult Protective Services.
When Can I Sue for Nursing Home Neglect?
Did you or a loved one suffer serious injuries or illness because of negligence or substandard care while living in a nursing home? You could be entitled to seek financial compensation.
In many cases, nursing facilities are required to provide adequate care to residents, including food, shelter, medicine, and other necessities. A nursing home failing to meet those standards can lead to severe injury or death.
Nursing home neglect involves failing to provide basic needs such as food, water, clothing, and proper sanitation. Some examples include:
- Failing to provide necessary medication
- Not providing enough food or water
- Exposing nursing home residents to dangerous conditions like fire hazards, flooding, or mold
- Leaving nursing home residents unattended
- Denying access to doctors or emergency equipment
- Refusing or failing to treat residents
The Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for filing a claim varies depending on where you live. The vast majority of states require claims to be filed within three years of the date of the incident. However, there are exceptions.
For example, Illinois requires claims to be filed within twenty-four months of the incident. However, there are exceptions to the length of time you might have to file.
Contact a personal injury attorney to learn more about how to file a claim for nursing home neglect. A competent nursing home abuse lawyer can explain your options and answer questions.
Do You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse Harmed Your Loved One? Speak With an Attorney Now
From the moment you decide to house a family member in a nursing care home, you expect the staff to serve your loved one with the highest possible care, whether it's a for-profit company or not, irrespective of the location of the care home.
When your loved one has suffered an injury at a caregiving facility due to understaffing, abuse, or neglect, you do not merely have to accept it and move on. Take legal action now!
You might be eligible for financial compensation from the nursing home chain for the harm your loved one has suffered. Contact our law offices today at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation to discuss monetary recovery for medical bills and other expenses.
We accept cases on a contingency fee basis, so you don't have to pay us our fees for our legal services until your nursing home abuse lawyer wins your case.
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