Nursing home law is a tricky area because of the complications that arise from the vulnerability of senior citizens. Whether you’re concerned about your parents’ wellbeing in their home or seeking to hold an irresponsible nursing home accountable for the way they’ve treated your loved one, you should consult with a lawyer for review.
Trying to evaluate if a case of neglect or abuse has happened in the first place is something you should assess and talk to an attorney. The main things you should determine are the type of neglect and whether the nursing home’s actions or inactions caused your loved one to be injured.
The Dark Side of Nursing Homes
While nursing homes are meant to be safe havens for the elderly so that they can live comfortably without overexerting themselves, these places can be detrimental to their health. The National Center of Biotechnology Information’s (NCBI) study on neglect and abuse reported complaints by nursing home residents and their relatives regarding instances of violence, bullying, lack of care during duties, and malicious actions by staff members.
Elder abuse in nursing homes is often a result of the power dynamic between a healthy young adult and an older person who needs round-the-clock care. The severe underreporting of this issue signifies the extreme voicelessness of the victims, who may feel that they have no power in this system. This provides malicious people the opportunity to get away with abusive behavior and prevents common mistakes or oversights from being addressed.
While 43% of nursing homes in the United States were found to provide subpar care to their residents, only one complaint was filed in 85% percent of homes. This shows that there is a great need to take action.. This is very concerning because our elderly are being overlooked by society.
What Constitutes Neglect
Neglect in nursing homes can be very subtle and can look like any number of situations. Neglect is a subcategory of abuse that can be defined as actions, whether intentional or not, that lead to harm and injury to other people. In many cases, the injury caused by neglect can often be invisible, such as emotional trauma, harm to dignity, or stress.
Nursing home neglect seems to occur most commonly when workers are overworked, stressed, and underpaid. When health care workers are so understaffed and unable to provide proper care, residents are likely to suffer from bad hygiene, limited exercise, unsanitary living quarters, and physical injuries and mental health trauma.
Neglect can quickly escalate into abuse, where workers may be hitting, humiliating, and verbally abusing residents. These injuries that result from neglect are typically attributed to accidents or accidental injury by the administration, especially when the resident is unable to speak for themselves. This is one way that nursing home neglect often goes unnoticed.
Types of Neglect
Neglect can be categorized into four main categories: medical, social/emotional, hygiene, and basic needs. Nursing homes differ from assisted living facilities in that they provide long-term medical care for the resident.
Therefore, medical neglect is one of the most egregious forms of neglect. Not administering medicine as per the doctor’s orders, failing to conduct regular physical examinations, or failing to provide medical care are all part of medical neglect. This form of neglect can result in injury and is medical malpractice.
Social and emotional neglect is difficult to prove, but consistent social isolation or verbal abuse of the resident constitutes abuse and neglect as well. Nursing home residents should not be kept isolated or treated rudely
Neglect of hygiene is also considered neglect. Older people or disabled individuals with long-term medical issues often need assistance with oral care, showering, and keeping clean. Failure to provide such assistance is also negligence.
When a nursing home takes on the responsibility of care, there is an agreement that the resident’s basic needs will be taken care of. Receiving adequate amounts of food, proper shelter, access to a bathroom, and sufficient water or other forms of hydration is essential. Lack of maintenance, staff, and adequate resources can all lead to this kind of neglect.
Neglect Law: Civil vs. Criminal
Legislation regarding neglect is a combination of civil and criminal law. Depending on the circumstances of a case, your lawyer may alter the approach that they take. One important thing to watch out for is that in places such as Little Rock, Arkansas nursing homes are not required by law to have malpractice insurance, which means that you may not be able to receive any compensation in the event of a lawsuit.
However, the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act provides a means through which you may be able to ensure civil penalties are assessed against the nursing home, especially if the facility relies on Medicare/Medicaid payments.
In the case of severe and repeated neglect, a case for abuse can also be made, where the nursing home or specified members of staff may be found guilty of malicious harmful behavior. For example, repeated severe falls due to carelessness on behalf of a worker can be a case you should consult a personal injury lawyer focusing on medical cases.
Any experienced injury attorney will tell you that any dubious activity should be brought to the attention of a licensed and experienced medical malpractice attorney. An accident lawyer, like the ones available on lisadouglas.com can evaluate your claim to determine if you have a case.