Nursing Home Abuse
America’s Disgrace: Nursing home abuse
and neglect of the elderly
Nursing home neglect and abuse is both widespread and growing. In fact, nursing home abuse is so widespread that a survey by the American Geriatrics Society shows that almost one-third of all Americans would rather die than live in a nursing home. That is tragic!
Congress and state legislatures have taken steps to make nursing homes more accountable. The Nursing Home Reform Act requires that a nursing home “must provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psycho-social well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care…”
There are steps you can take to be alert and prevent abuse to a loved one. But if a member of your family is abused or neglected while living in a nursing home you should call Cochran, Foley & Associates at 800-322-5543 and ask for Terry Cochran or Lynn Foley. Both possess the special knowledge needed to make sure all necessary evidence has been gathered and to determine what legal action should be taken to protect your loved one’s interests.
Lynn Foley, a Registered Nurse with professional experience in the medical field, has extensive experience in handling nursing home abuse cases.
It is important to watch for signs that your loved one may be suffering abuse. With more than 1.6 million elderly and dependent adults living in nursing homes in the U.S., abuse and neglect has become widespread.
Even though some nursing homes provide good care, too many are subjecting helpless residents to needless suffering and death. Most residents in nursing homes are dependent on the staff for most or all their needs including food, water, medicine, toileting, grooming, stimulation, and turning.
Nursing home abuse
Unfortunately, many residents in nursing homes today are starved, dehydrated, over-medicated, and suffer painful pressure sores. They are often isolated, ignored and deprived of social contact and stimulation. Abuse includes assault, sexual assault, unreasonable restraint, food and water deprivation, excessive dosages of medication, withholding medication, or confinement. Following are some signs of abuse:
- Unexplained injuries
- Inability of nursing home staff to adequately explain a resident’s condition
- Open wounds, cuts, bruises, welts, or bed sores
- Slapping, pushing, shaking or beating
- Non-verbal signs from the nursing home patient that something is wrong, such as being emotionally upset, extremely withdrawn, non-communicative, unusual behavior
Nursing home neglect
Neglect means the negligent failure of any person having the care or custody of an elderly or a dependent adult to exercise the degree of care that a reasonable person in a similar position would exercise.
Neglect includes failure to: assist in personal hygiene; provide food, shelter or clothing; provide medical care; protect from hazards; prevent dehydration or malnutrition; prevent bedsores or infections; provide sanitary conditions.
Suffocation and strangulation most often occurs when nursing home patients are neglected in hospital beds. The most recent thorough study of nursing home suffocation and strangulation found that in a three-year period there were 74 reports of death from strangulation or suffocation involving hospital beds. Beyond these reported deaths, there is concern regarding the number of deaths that may go unreported each year.
Falls are the most frequent causes of fractures among the elderly. Nursing home personnel are regularly required to assess patients to determine their risk for falling, and provide safety devices and services to minimize the risk of injury to the resident.
Laws to protect nursing home residents
Both federal and state laws combine to regulate almost every aspect of nursing home activity. If a patient is abused or neglected, it is likely that the nursing home is in violation of strict laws designed to curtail such activities.
Most nursing homes participate in both Medicare and Medicaid programs. If the resident who suffered abuse received Medicaid or Medicare benefits, then it is possible that inaccurate and illegal billings may have been submitted to the government.
In addition to federal laws regulating the quality of care in nursing homes, the state of Michigan has enacted laws, including Michigan’s Statutory Patient’s Bill of Rights includes the following (The Michigan Public Health Code MCL 333.20201; MSA 14.15(20201):
- A Michigan patient or resident is entitled to be free from mental and physical abuse and, except as authorized by a physician, or as necessitated by an emergency to protect the patient, free from physical and chemical restraints.
- A Michigan patient or resident shall not be denied appropriate care on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, age, handicap, marital status, sexual preference, or source of payment.
- An individual may obtain a copy of, or inspect his/her medical records, and a third party shall not be given a copy without authorization of the patient except as required by law and third party contract.
- A Michigan patient or resident is entitled to privacy, to the extent feasible, in treatment and caring for personal needs with consideration, respect, and full recognition of his/her dignity and individuality.
- A Michigan patient or resident is entitled to adequate and appropriate care and to receive information about his/her medical condition, proposed treatment and prospects for recovery, unless medically contraindicated by the physician in the medical record.
- A Michigan patient or resident is entitled to receive and examine an explanation of his/her bill. Also, he/she is entitled to know who is responsible for, and who is providing, his/her care.
- A Michigan patient or resident is entitled to associate and have private communication with his/her physician, attorney or any other person, and to send and receive personal mail unopened, unless medically contraindicated.
- Michigan patient’s or resident’s civil and religious liberties shall not be infringed and the facility shall encourage and assist in the exercise of these rights.
- A Michigan patient or resident is entitled to retain and use personal clothing and possessions as space permits. At the request of a patient, a nursing home shall provide for safekeeping of personal property and funds, except that a nursing home shall not be required to provide for the safekeeping of property that would impose an unreasonable burden on the nursing home.
- Each Michigan nursing home patient shall be provided with meals that meet the recommended dietary allowances for the patient’s age and sex and may be modified according to special dietary needs.
- A Michigan nursing home, its owner, administrator, employee, or representative shall not discharge, harass, retaliate or discriminate against a patient because a patient has exercised rights protected by law.
The cost of treating injuries suffered at the hands of a nursing home can be quite high. Often the resulting injuries are permanent. This is an extreme hardship for the injured person and his or her family.
If the condition was determined to be the fault of a nursing home, then there should be insurance in place to provide financial compensation for the substantial bills and expenses that will be incurred.
When things go wrong
If your loved one has been the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse contact Cochran, Foley & Associates for a free consultation.
The attorneys at Cochran & Foley have the skills, legal knowledge and experience needed to protect you and will seek to win payment for their clients’ injuries, expenses, and loss.
An attorney will lead you through the steps needed to recover actual damages and may even assist in punitive damages being awarded.
Levels of responsibility
Actual damages can be awarded for medical bills, lost income, funeral expenses, pain and suffering, mental stress, permanent disability and similar hardships.
Punitive damages, above and beyond those actually incurred by the victim, are intended to punish the guilty party for reckless or inappropriate behavior. Punitive damages also can function as a deterrent for others.
An attorney can collect damages by proving the nursing home was negligent. Cochran & Foley will seek payments for expenses resulting from abuse, and ensure justice by pursuing punitive damages, and take action to protect your loved one from future abuse or neglect.
Cochran & Foley devotes its practice to representing individuals who are the victims of nursing home abuse, medical malpractice, accidents, or work place injuries. Essentially, if a person has been involved in any tragedy involving negligence and requiring compensation, Cochran & Foley will provide whatever legal services are required.
Above All Else, Seek Justice
Victims should not hesitate from filing a lawsuit for fear of filing a frivolous lawsuit. That is propaganda created by the insurance industry. Let your attorney, not an insurance agent, determine what’s frivolous and when justice should be pursued.
In America, a jury makes a decision on damages after hearing all of the evidence. The jury award is designed to compensate the injury victim. A fundamental right of all Americans is a trial by jury, allowing our fellow citizens to hear our case and to make a decision. Do not give up any of your rights as a citizen!
Statutes of limitation limit the length of time you have to file a lawsuit. If you fail to file a lawsuit within that time period you may forever be denied the justice due you. If your loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse, it is critical that you seek legal help quickly.
Let Cochran, Foley & Associates fight for your rights. There is no obligation for case evaluation and no fee is charged unless a recovery is made.
The Law Offices of Cochran, Foley & Associates, P.C. is dedicated to representing individuals and families who have suffered catastrophic losses as a result of injuries, disabilities and death. The firm does not represent insurance companies or corporations but instead bases its practice upon representing individuals and families.