legal resources necessary to hold negligent facilities accountable.
Nursing Homes in Tennessee
According to Medicare.gov, Tennessee has 316 nursing homes. While 170 (54%) of these facilities rank at or above the state average for the care they provide, the remaining 146 (46%) have below-average and much below-average ratings based on the national average. This substandard level of care falls below the acceptable rating allowed by Federal and state regulators at Medicaid and Medicare.
Our legal staff knows the pain of placing a family member in a nursing facility. They understand that it is hard to imagine nurses and nurse aides caring for them during their most vulnerable times. Sadly, there are many cases where elderly people are neglected and abused by caregivers in nursing homes in Georgia.
Often, these cases involve a hospital or long-term care provider failing to provide basic necessities for its patients, including adequate nutrition, hydration, sanitation, safety, and health care. Residents may be neglected because of their inability to move freely or experience serious complications from dehydration, malnutrition, infection, bed sores, medication errors, or falling.
Federal and state regulators regularly inspect and investigate formal complaint reports from residents and their families regarding health care providers who provide long-term care services at federally funded long-term care facilities. Here are a few examples of the issues they've found during these inspections.
Failure to Protect Residents From all Forms of Abuse
Abuse and mistreatment can happen anywhere, including in the most well-kept and clean nursing homes. According to National Center on Elderly Abuse statistics, up to 10 percent of all patients in Tennessee nursing homes, independent living communities, and long-term care facilities experience some form of abuse.
Tennessee nursing homes face various types of abuse by staff and patients. Here are some examples of these different types of abuses.
- Failure to prevent abuse for one resident after the resident's family moved the resident from the facility out of fear of the psychosocial consequences of the facility's treatment. (Abundant Christian Living Community Rehabilitation)
- Failure to provide a safe environment ensures supervision to prevent neglect for one resident reviewed for elopement risk after the cognitively impaired patient left the facility and was found nearly 1 mile away on a warm summer day. (AHC Forest Cove)
- Failure to provide adequate supervision to prevent neglect of one resident reviewed for wandering and elopement after the resident exited the facility through the front doors, walked down a heavily traveled street and crossed more than one major intersection late in the evening before being found at his previous patients 24 hours later. (AHC Harbor View)
- Failure to ensure a resident was free from abuse during a resident-to-resident altercation resulted in physical harm and mental anguish. (Cumberland Village Care Nursing Home)
- Failure to prevent resident abuse for one patient was reviewed for abuse and neglect after they were struck by another resident in the face with a closed fist in March 2022, causing psychosocial harm. (Decatur Wellness and Rehabilitation Center)
- Failure to ensure the resident was free from neglect when a Licensed Practical Nurse neglected to provide adequate treatment when a resident had a significant decline in his condition after being found without respirations and the nurse not initiating life-saving measures, the resident died. (Galloway Health and Rehab Center)
- Failure to provide adequate supervision to prevent neglect for a resident with wandering/elopement behavior that resulted in immediate jeopardy when the vulnerable resident left the facility was found approximately 237 feet from the alarming exit door, and the staff was unaware the resident was missing. (Henderson Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center)
- Failure to ensure two patients were free from abuse during resident-to-resident altercations. (Huntsville Health and Rehabilitation)
- Failure to prevent abuse after a resident reported a Certified Nursing Assistant structure on the arm during care in April 2022. (NHC Healthcare – Murfreesboro)
- Failure to ensure adequate supervision to prevent neglect of vulnerable and confuse residents with wandering behavior after one resident struck another patient resulting in multiple facial fractures, and the resident was locked in a chemical storage closet unsupervised for approximately one hour. (Parkway Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center)
- Failure to supervise a resident with confusion and hallucinations at risk for wandering and elopement after the patient exited the facility without staff supervision or knowledge was found off the property near a busy intersection for approximately 39 minutes without supervision. (Quince Nursing and Rehabilitation Center)
- Failure to prevent abuse for two patients when a cognitively impaired patient was found with his hands tied in his shirtsleeves and another resident was the victim of sexual abuse penetrated by a third patient. (Willow Branch Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center)
Failure to Implement and Follow Infection Protection Protocols
Investigators found that some nurses at several Tennessee long-term care centers had violated infection control procedures by failing to properly clean their hands before entering patients' rooms, not washing their hands after using the bathroom, and not wearing gloves when they changed bed linens. They also noted that some employees were not following proper hand hygiene practices even though they knew they should be doing so.
- Failure to provide timely notification to family members of newly developed cases of Covid-19 in January 2022, affecting 79 residents in the facility. (Life Care Center of Crossville)
Tennessee Nursing Home Abuse Law
The Tennessee legislature has enacted laws to protect nursing home residents from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by their staff. The law requires that the state license all Tennessee nursing homes. In addition, each resident must have a written plan for care which is reviewed at least annually.
If an incident occurs where there is evidence of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, then the facility must report it to the appropriate authorities. These include the Department of Health (DOH), local police departments, the Attorney General's office, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).
Proving Negligence and Liability
To prove negligence occurred in long-term care homes in the Volunteer State, you must show that they had a duty to act reasonably under the circumstances. This means they owe a legal obligation to provide adequate care to the patient. They were also responsible for exercising reasonable care in carrying out this duty. A breach of these duties could lead to liability if someone was harmed.
To establish liability, you must demonstrate that the caregiving facility failed to meet its duty of care. You may be able to do so through expert testimony, such as that provided by a medical malpractice attorney who specializes in nursing home cases.
Contact our firm today if your loved one suffered harm from negligent treatment while in a nursing facility. We are here to help you pursue justice for your family.
What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
Abuse in nursing homes in Tennessee can take many forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, and financial. It can occur when a caregiver intentionally inflicts pain or discomfort upon a resident. It can also happen when a caregiver fails to prevent injury or mistreats a resident.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, the most common forms of caregiver abuse and neglect include:
- Physical abuse includes hitting, shaking, burning with cigarettes, biting, kicking, punching, pinching, slapping, spitting, choking, restraining, dragging, pushing, pulling, throwing objects, slamming doors, locking doors, tying up, forcing feeding, administering medication without consent, and other similar actions.
- Sexual abuse includes fondling, oral sex, anal sex, vaginal intercourse, fellatio, cunnilingus, masturbation, sodomy, voyeurism, exhibitionism, indecent exposure, forced nudity, and any other form of sexual activity.
- Emotional abuse includes yelling, screaming, threatening, humiliating, ridiculing, belittling, intimidating, demeaning, ignoring, isolating, denying access to visitors, and other similar acts.
- Financial abuse involves stealing money or property belonging to the resident. It can involve taking money from the resident's bank account, charging unauthorized fees, or misusing funds entrusted to them.
- Negligence in nursing homes in Tennessee can also arise when registered nurses, licensed nurses, certified nurse aides, and other staff do not follow established procedures or protocols. For example, a nurse might fail to administer medications properly or perform necessary tests.
Negligent Care Can Lead To Injury And Death
The most common injuries resulting from mistreatment are broken bones, head trauma, internal bleeding, burns, cuts, bruises, lacerations, and other types of wounds. Other injuries can include pressure sores, bed sores, malnutrition, dehydration, infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, bedsores, falls, fractures, and other health problems.
Death is another unfortunate consequence of neglectful care. Some residents die because:
- Their caregivers did not treat them appropriately.
- They were subjected to unnecessary restraints.
- They were denied proper nutrition and hydration.
Common Signs of Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
A recent CNN report detailed how nursing homes across America are failing to protect residents from abuse and neglect. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of nursing home deaths each year are due to health problems related to physical abuse or neglect.
One common sign you may see among nursing patients includes:
- A loss of appetite: The resident might suffer from poor nutrition or dehydration when the staff notices the patient is not eating or drinking enough for survival.
- Bedsores: When patients aren't moved often enough, they can develop bedsores. These ulcers can form on the skin due to pressure and lack of blood flow.
- Unexplained bruising or cuts: If a resident has unexplained bruises or cuts, it could be a sign of physical abuse.
- Unusual weight changes: A sudden weight loss or gain could signify that the resident isn't properly taken care of.
- Poor hygiene: A resident not being bathed or groomed properly may begin to look and smell bad. This can lead to additional health problems.
- A decline in their mental state: If a resident seems to be deteriorating mentally, it could be a sign that they're not getting the care they need.
- Withdrawn behavior: A resident who becomes withdrawn and isolated from others may be experiencing emotional abuse.
- Lack of socialization: A caregiving home should provide residents with plenty of opportunities for socialization, especially those with a private room. Patients who aren't getting out enough may become lonely and depressed.
How To Know If Your Loved One Suffered From Nursing Home Abuse
The signs of abuse in independent living communities and nursing homes in Tennessee are often subtle and hard to detect. However, some telltale symptoms should raise red flags. Noticeable changes in your loved one’s behavior, appearance, or mental state, could indicate that they have been abused.
- Increased agitation: The resident who is angry, hurtful or lashes out might be experiencing abuse.
- Unexplained bruises or welts on the skin may signify physical abuse.
- Changes in eating habits or weight could be indicative of neglect.
- Depression or withdrawal may signal that the resident is emotionally abused.
- Sudden changes in demeanor could be a result of financial exploitation.
- Lack of personal hygiene could suggest that the resident is not bathed or groomed properly.
- Lack of interest in activities or socialization could be due to a lack of stimulation from staff.
- Theft of personal belongings could signify that the resident is being financially exploited.
- Poor medical care, including failure to provide prescribed medications or treatments, can signify nursing home abuse.
- Bedsores, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia are common problems associated with nursing home neglect and failure to assist with daily living activities.
- Patients who are scared, anxious, or paranoid may be experiencing abuse.
Unexpected nursing home deaths often occur due to neglect or abuse.
Contact an attorney immediately if you suspect your loved one was harmed while in a nursing home. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and other damages.