Who Could Be Held Responsible for
Nursing Home Abuse?
There may be a number of potential defendants in a case or nursing home abuse. These might include:
- Negligent nurses
- Medical directors
- Advance practice nurses
- Wound care specialists
- Corporate owners
- Facility license holders
- Real estate holding companies
- Physical therapists
- Primary care physicians
- Hospitals and other outside providers
- Nurse’s assistants and other staff members
- Facility administrators and directors of nursing
Common Injuries Experienced Due To Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home abuse and neglect often result in painful and catastrophic injuries, including:
- Bed sores
- Head traumas
- Medication errors
- Physical or sexual assault
Compensation Available In Nursing Home Abuse Claims
Depending on the nature and extent of the injuries, there may be a host of potential forms of compensation that you and your loved one can recover. Under federal law, nursing home residents have certain enumerated rights, known as the Nursing Home Residents Bill of Rights.
Under Alabama Administrative Code § 420-5-10, many of these rights have been formatted into regulations that require compliance on the part of nursing homes. When nursing homes and their employees and staff violate these fundamental rules and regulations, injured residents have a right to seek compensation.
Compensation can include:
- Medical expenses incurred due to negligence
- Psychological treatment resulting from abuse or assaults
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death
- Punitive damages
What If My Loved One Died Due to Abuse or Neglect in a Nursing Home?
If a loved one dies from neglect, the heirs and next-of-kin may also be entitled to compensation through an action that seeks compensation on behalf of the estate. In these cases, families may seek payment for:
- Funeral bills
- Burial costs
- Final medical expenses
- Loss of love and affection
- Loss of familial support
Sadly, many big nursing home companies and their insurance carriers try to argue that the lives of seniors are not worth anything. These careless and aggressive corporations tend to focus on whether the injured person had an income that was lost and whether they had high medical costs relating to the injury. This completely ignores the sanctity and value of human life.
At Gartlan Injury Law, we understand that it’s difficult to put a price on human life. When someone you love dearly passes away before their time, it can be frustrating, upsetting, and unfair. If your loved one’s death was preventable and caused by a negligent or even abusive nursing home, call us today to speak with an attorney who can fight for the justice your family deserves.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
It can be difficult to know whether a loved one is being abused or neglected while living in a residential skilled nursing facility. This can be due to a few reasons. For instance, many vulnerable seniors are afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation. Victims may have limited cognitive ability due to Alzheimer’s or certain medications. There are rarely any witnesses to the abuse who are willing to come forward.
Despite these challenges, there are signs you can watch for. Here are just a few examples of some warning signs you should keep an eye open for when visiting a loved one in a nursing home:
- Does your loved one have open sores of any kind on their body? Look at areas near bony prominences, like elbows, tailbone, hip bones, or heels. Bed sores can start quickly and progress into deadly injuries.
- Is the facility well-staffed? If you always seem to struggle to find a staff member who can help, there may be insufficient staff. If call lights go unanswered or bed alarms sound for a long time before anyone responds, this can be a sign of poor staffing levels too.
- Do you smell unusual odors? Feces and urine are unfortunately common odors in nursing homes. After all, there may be residents who are incontinent. That said, these odors should not linger. If these odors seem to always be there and never go away, it may indicate that the staff simply cannot keep up or is failing to provide adequate hygiene. This can lead to deadly infections.
- Observe your loved one. Does your loved one seem shy or become nervous around a certain employee? Is there a noticeable change in your loved one’s behavior? Beware, as this could be a sign of physical or even sexual abuse. Many seniors emotionally retreat and become withdrawn when victimized by abusers.
There are many other things to look for when visiting a nursing home, but these are certainly some of the more common things family members should watch for. If you suspect abuse or have concerns about the care your loved one is receiving, you should report it to the State of Alabama and contact Gartlan Injury Law right away.
Difference Between Abuse and Neglect
Abuse and neglect are often used interchangeably, but they are different. In the context of a nursing home injury, these are the two ways that residents are generally injured.
What Is Nursing Home Neglect?
Neglect can be passive or active. Active neglect occurs when someone knowingly chooses not to provide care. This is sadly not as rare as you might imagine. Stressed-out caregivers, low staffing ratios, and poor pay all contribute to healthcare workers simply giving up and choosing not to provide care. Passive neglect, on the other hand, is far more common. It involves poor training or simply not having time to get to a task. Here are some examples of each:
Active Nursing Home Neglect
- Choosing not to check on a resident who is demanding or in pain
- Willfully not responding to bed alarms or call lights
Passive Nursing Home Neglect
- Forgetting to give proper medications
- Miscalculating fall risks or skin problems
- Failing to check vital signs
What Is Nursing Home Abuse?
Abuse, on the other hand is an intentional act of harm against a resident. Whether it is a physical assault, sexual abuse, or verbal abuse, it is wrong. Residents in a nursing home are to be treated as though it is their own home. They should be given privacy, dignity, and respect. Sadly, many vulnerable seniors are raped and assaulted each year. Nursing homes are required to perform background checks to weed out potentially predatory workers. When nursing homes fail to do so, they leave innocent seniors completely defenseless.
Alabama Nursing Home Abuse Statistics
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), nearly 6 percent of all nursing home surveys in Alabama resulted in a finding of immediate harm. Consider that in the same year, only 6.3 percent of all nursing home surveys performed in the state resulted in a finding of zero deficiencies. To understand that better, it means that almost 94 percent of the time, when a nursing home is surveyed, it results in some sort of deficiency.
The National Center on Elder Abuse reports that the average annual cost of abuse and neglect result in approximately $5.3 billion nationwide and the cost to Medicare each year, due to providing corrective medical care for injuries in nursing homes, is an amazing $2.8 billion each and every year.
Therefore, elder abuse and neglect, especially in healthcare settings, is a large problem. But for the families who are faced with the realities of watching a beloved parent, sibling, or spouse suffer at the hands of those charged with providing care, it can be too much to tolerate. When this happens, call an attorney who will aggressively hold the wrongdoers accountable and seek justice.