Elder Care and Nursing Home Abuse
By: Michael Rose
Many families have experienced the stress and expense involved in finding the right elder care facility or nursing home for a loved one. Placing someone in a nursing home is a very difficult decision and you can only hope that they receive the best possible care and attention. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents become victims of the “hidden crime” of elder abuse and neglect. While most of these cases go unreported, nearly 6 million nursing home residents suffer from abuse or neglect on some level.
Nursing home victims are often reluctant to report this mistreatment for various reasons, such as fear of retaliation, or a lack of cognitive ability to report. Often this abuse is due to shortage of staff, lack of adequate employee training, or a lack of procedure for detecting abuse.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), “elders who experienced abuse (even modest abuse) had a 300% higher risk of death when compared to those who had not been abused.” California, Florida, New York, Texas, and Pennsylvania have the most cases of elder abuse annually in the nation. Elder care abuse occurs in care facilities by service providers, staff members, other patients, or even guests (visitors).
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Most nursing home residents are unaware of elder care law and its protections. Nursing home residents are often unable to communicate this abuse and/or neglect from their caregivers. Victims of nursing home abuse can suffer severe physical, emotional, psychological, and financial abuse. It is possible that a nursing home resident is being abused if the staff member refuses to let a visitor see a resident or insists on being present during visitation.
Signs of abuse can be emotional (behavior and/or personality changes), physical (unexplained accident or injury), and sexual (unexplained venereal diseases such as genital infections, vaginal or anal bleeding, bruising of the breasts, or inner thighs).
Other examples of abuse can include:
- Intimidation or use of threats
- Medication errors
- Poor bathroom facilities
- Not providing food at the specified time or at a prescribed schedule
- Failure to treat or provide emergency care
- Lack of adequate supervision, such as when a patient leaves the facility without authorization
- Abandonment (inadequate daily care)
- Failure to groom and/or clean residents
Nursing Home and Elder Law
By law, nursing homes must provide the highest standard of care to their residents. Federal and state laws are designed to protect nursing home residents from abuse or neglect, as well as regulate the quality of care required. Elder abuse can cause illness, discomfort, or death, and is often referred to as “institutional abuse.”
Most state laws require doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals to report suspected institutional abuse to the designated state office. Other laws mandate annual inspections, impose sanctions for violations, and require nursing homes to be licensed in order to operate.
Elder Care Legal Help
If a family member or someone you know has been abused in a nursing home or other facility, you should report the matter to the proper authorities immediately and consider taking legal action. To learn more about the rights of those in nursing homes, contact Hach & Rose, LLP, today by calling (212) 779-0057 to speak with a qualified member of our legal team.