Nursing Home Neglect: Do I Have a Case?
Placing your aging parent in a nursing home is not an easy decision. You wish you could care for him or her yourself, but you can’t due to work or family responsibilities. Thus, you hope the nursing home will offer the best care for your parent.
While many nursing homes provide comfortable environments, others do not. Unfortunately, substandard nursing home staff could neglect or abuse residents, leading to sickness, injury, and even death. If you believe your parent’s nursing home has mistreated your parent, you may want to pursue a legalcase. Legal intervention can get your parent medical compensation and prevent the nursing home from neglecting other patients.
The Nursing Home Reform Act
First, you have to remember that the government requires nursing homes to meet certain standards. The Nursing Home Reform Act was passed in 1987. Some of its requirements state nursing homes should:
- Hire capable nursing staff
- Develop care plans for each resident
- Arrange for medical care; a physician should be available 24 hours a day
- Ensure residents do not develop bed sores
- Ensure proper treatment and medication
Ask a lawyer for more information about this act. He or she can help you determine whether your parent’s nursing home meets its requirements.
Do I Have a Case?
Even if your parent’s nursing home claims to meet government standards, you may still have a case of abuse or neglect. Let’s look at common nursing home neglect issues to help you determine whether you have a case.
1. Bed Sores
Bed sores are one of the most common signs that nursing home staff has neglected your parent. The sore starts as a red skin area and could progressto skin loss, tissue damage, and infection. These sores occur because nursing residents are left in bed too long, causing pressure on certain areas of the body.
Nursing home staff should prevent bed sores by making sure residents spend time out of bed. They can also reduce the risk of bed sores by providing special mattresses or other protective measures. If they clearly have not worked to prevent bed sores, you could have a case.
2. Increased Emotional Distress
If nursing home staff have neglected or abused your parent, he or she may confide in you. However, due to your parent’s mental or emotional state, he or she may be unable or unwilling to tell you about the abuse.
An evaluation from a psychiatrist can help determine whether your parent’s emotional state has worsened due to nursing home abuse or neglect. A lawyer can also interview workers and residents and conduct further investigations into the nursing home’s methods.
3. Physical Injuries
If your loved one has suffered a physical injury while in the nursing home, you may want to investigate further. The injury could have happened due to neglect. For example, nursing home staff might let your parent wander off without supervision, increasing injury risk. His or her injury could also have happened due to abuse.
A lawyer can investigate this injury by evaluating your parent’s health before and after the accident and by investigating the actions of the nursing home staff.
4. Loss of Money
A less obvious way nursing homes can abuse residents and their families is by billing them for services they didn’t perform. If you believe you a nursing home has overcharged you, have a lawyer look into the history and current actions of the home.
5. Lack of Medical Care
If the nursing home doesn’t treat your parent properly, his or her condition could worsen. A lawyer can determine whether your parent receives the proper medications and treatment.
What to Do Now
Many nursing homes offer great care and can help your parent age with dignity. However, other nursing homes do not offer adequate care. You can prevent this by checking a nursing home’s background before you place your parent there, and by visiting your parent regularly. If the nursing home does not allow you to visit often, that’s a sure sign they’ve hidden their inadequate care.
If you believe your parent has suffered from an incompetent nursing home, talk to a lawyer. He or she can determine whether you have a case. If so, he or she will pursue it and get compensation.