Nursing home abuse and neglect affect tens of thousands of seniors in care facilities throughout the U.S. During 2014 alone, national data showed that more than 14,250 formal complaints involving “abuse, gross neglect, or exploitation” were reported. At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates roughly 1,800 nursing home residents are killed each year solely due to falls. In addition dehydration, malnutrition, bedsores, overmedication, and other violations also result in many nursing home deaths and serious injury. Because nursing home neglect is known to be underreported, the true numbers are likely to be far higher.
The bottom line is that nursing home abuse is far more prevalent than many people realize, even at reputable facilities. While it’s a devastating possibility to consider, abuse or neglect may be the cause if your elderly loved one has sustained injuries, developed infections, lost weight, or seems to have undergone a personality change. If you suspect that abuse or neglect is occurring, it is vital to take immediate action, not only for the victim’s safety, but also to preserve your family’s legal options. This article will explain the steps you should take if you’re concerned that an elderly spouse or family member is being neglected or abused at a nursing home.
What to Do About Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse
If you’re concerned about nursing home abuse or neglect, you have a right to investigate the suspected issue. Don’t worry about “bothering” the nursing home with your questions or concerns. Instead focus on the resident’s safety and wellbeing. Remember, residents’ rights are protected by both state and federal laws, which exist to prevent and remedy nursing home violations that harm the elderly. But what should you do if you believe that nursing home abuse has occurred?
Steps to Take if You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse
If you think an elderly loved one is suffering due to abuse or neglect at a nursing home, it is critical that you swiftly take appropriate actions. The following steps can help protect your loved one’s safety and well being.
- If there is an emergency, such as a medical emergency or serious injury contact 9-1-1 for help immediately. Our articles on the signs of nursing home neglect and signs of nursing home abuse go into detail describing some common red flags to watch out for when mistreatment or poor quality care is suspected.
- For safety concerns that don’t rise to the level of an emergency, contact the nursing home’s nursing staff, director of nursing, social worker or administrator. Though you will understandably feel angry and anxious, try to remain as calm and collected. The better you are able to clearly articulate your concerns, the more likely you can resolve the problem at hand and obtain answers to your questions. Keep detailed notes of problems reported to staff and who you spoke with. Save copies of any emails, voicemails, or documents you receive from the nursing home.
- If after you believe your loved one’s health or safety is in danger, you should consider changing nursing homes.
- Photograph the evidence. Photographs can preserve a dated visual record of the victim’s injuries. This may include physical signs and/or effects of abuse and neglect, such as the progression the bed sores, bruising, bite marks, tattered clothing or low body weight. Keep all of the information you gather well organized. Try to make multiple copies of every potential item of evidence.
- Report the nursing home to the appropriate regulatory authority in your state. See the section below for a detailed explanation of how to report nursing home abuse, and how making this report differs from filing a lawsuit.
- Consult a nursing home injury attorney who handles cases in your state. Don’t wait to consult with a nursing home injury lawyer for further guidance on how to proceed. The Wieand Law Firm handles nursing home lawsuits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and offers free initial consultations.
Our attorneys are highly experienced in litigating cases against negligent nursing homes. We offer a free consultation to help assess your situation and can offer advice on your legal rights.
How Do I Report a Nursing Home to the State?
Every state government features a department or division that accepts and reviews formal complaints about nursing homes, generally that state’s Department of Health. You might also come across the term “Ombudsman,” which is an individual who advocates for nursing home residents. The U.S. Administration on Aging administers a national Ombudsman Program in each state. Collectively, these programs employ about 8,200 people who investigate approximately 190,000 complaints per year.
To report a nursing home in your state, complete and submit a complaint provided by your state government’s Department of Health or regulatory authority. This can usually be done online. Many of these programs also provide phone numbers to report nursing home abuse or neglect. You can find additional information about reporting suspected nursing home neglect or abuse through the Medicare website, which provides links and contact information for each state.
It’s important to emphasize that filing a complaint against a nursing home through your state’s Department of Health or to the Ombudsman is not the same as filing a personal injury lawsuit, which is also referred to as “filing a complaint.” In a civil case, the “complaint” is the name for the document that initiates a case. While reporting a nursing home to your state government is an important step toward reducing and preventing abuse, you must file a civil lawsuit if you wish to pursue financial compensation. A nursing home abuse attorney will can assist with filing a lawsuit, as well as subsequent motions and other legal documents, on your behalf as the case progresses.
Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Handling Wrongful Death and Injury Claims
Vulnerable and defenseless, countless nursing home residents suffer through terrible abuse and neglect at the hands of the very caregivers they trust and depend upon. In many cases, the abuse or neglect results in serious injuries, illnesses, infections, or even death. Some of the more common types of claims and lawsuits our attorneys handle include:
- Nursing Home Bed Sores (Pressure Ulcers/Decubitus Ulcers)
- Nursing Home Burn Injuries
- Nursing Home Dehydration and Malnutrition
- Infections causing SEPSIS, osteomyelitis or amputation
- Nursing Home Fall Injuries
- Nursing Home Head Injuries and Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Nursing Home Medication Errors
- Nursing Home Pelvic Fractures
- Nursing Home Wrongful Death
If a senior you love was neglected or abused at a nursing home Brent Wieand can fight to bring the facility to justice while aggressively pursuing fair compensation for the wrongdoing against your family. To learn more about how our law firm can help in a free, no-obligation, and confidential consultation, contact our nursing home neglect lawyers today.