Nursing Home Abuse and Nursing Home Neglect

There are approximately 16,000 nursing homes in the United States providing care to more than 1.5 million senior citizens.  These senior citizens have the right to spend their later years in a safe and nurturing environment.  It is a sad reality that the elderly can find themselves victims of nursing home abuse and neglect while residing in these facilities.  Hundreds of thousands of people also utilize nursing homes for rehabilitation.  After injury, illness, stroke, etc, nursing homes are looked to for physical, occupational and speech therapy.  Often these patients are younger and anticipate a return home to a life of independence.  Young or old - short term rehabilitation patient or life long resident – all deserve care that exceeds or at least meets required standards of care, federal and state guidelines and nursing home policies and procedures.

What is Nursing Home Abuse and Negelct?

Nursing home abuse or neglect can occur in many forms including:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional or psychological abuse
  • Financial or material exploitation
  • Negligence leading to illness or injury
  • Prescription drug errors
  • Failure to follow physician’s orders
  • Failure to timely diagnose injuries

When nursing home professionals allow such abuse or neglect to affect the well being of their residents, the nursing home facilities or its nursing professionals can be held liable for resulting damages.  Under the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, or OBRA, these nursing homes must provide a standard of care that will enable residents “to attain and maintain the highest practicable physical, mental and psychosocial wellbeing.”  This act gave rights to nursing home residents, laws to protect these rights and consequences to the nursing homes which do not comply.  However, in 2008, 26% of all nursing home facilities had reported deficiencies in the required standard of care. 

Know the Signs to Identify Nursing Home Negligence

A senior citizen or rehabilitation patient may not always voice a complaint of nursing home abuse or neglect due to fear or health issues.  Therefore, it is important to be aware of signs of that nursing home negligence could be present.  Signs may include:

  • Bed or pressure soars (also known as decubitus ulcers)
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Bruising
  • Infections
  • Bone fractures or dislocations
  • Slips or falls
  • Medication errors
  • Unhygienic conditions
  • Understaffing

Another area of concern is a situation where the nursing home staff makes efforts to prevent visitors from seeing residents. This may be a sign of nursing home abuse or neglect.  Abuse can occur in the form of theft or financial extortion.  Any change in the finances and material possessions of the nursing home residents could also signify a potential problem.

If you suspect nursing home negligence or abuse is occurring, it is critical to report any such violations.  Assistance can come in the form of local law enforcement, health care professionals, social services or The Inspector General’s Office.  Adult Protective Services and the Agency on Aging can also provide help.  Additionally, you can explore your legal rights and options.  You can contact Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC, at www.bluegrassinjury.com  or  click the author’s link above to assist you in this process.

From the author: Louisville Kentucky Nursing Home Injury Lawyer
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