Contrary to the provision of quality care that is required under the law and which nursing home residents are made to expect, so many of them are rather made to experience abuses and neglect or lack of care. These acts of abuse and neglect result to malnutrition or dehydration, failure to accommodate medical needs, lack of proper hygiene or sanitation, bedsores, and even wrongful death. In fact, thousands of abuses and neglect get reported every year; yet, despite this high number, many authorities and experts believe that so many more remain unreported, especially the more sensitive and humiliating cases, like sexual abuses.
About 15,600 nursing home facilities located all across U.S. provide shelter to more than 1.3 million residents (statistics for 2014). Nursing facility residents include elders (65 years old or older), individuals who are chronically ill or disabled and in need of rehabilitative therapy, and those who are physically or mentally incapacitated. All of these facilities promise the same thing: monitoring of medication, 24-hour emergency care, social and recreational activities and personal care, which includes dressing, bathing, and toilet assistance: in a nutshell, high quality of life in a well-maintained setting.
To protect residents, as well as to make sure that their needs are always attended to, the U.S. Congress passed the Nursing Home Reform Act into law in 1987. This Act mandates that nursing homes participating in Medicare and Medicaid or which receive Medicare and Medicaid funds, should “provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care.” (http://www.nursinghomealert.com/federal-nursing-home-regulations-and-state-laws)
As defined under federal nursing home regulations, neglect, is failure to provide the necessary care and service which will ensure freedom from pain or harm, or failure to assist a resident during potentially dangerous situations which can possibly result to harm or anxiety; it can be intentional or non-intentional. Abuse, on the other hand, can be any form of act that: causes injury; deprives care or service; causes intimidation; results in unreasonable confinement or punishment that causes physical harm and/or mental anguish.
According to the Sampson Law Firm, “Nursing home negligence is a serious problem in the United States. The sad reality is that far too many elderly individuals, whose families have placed an enormous degree of trust in the capability of the staff and ownership of the nursing home, are exposed to serious risks to their health and well-being every year as a result of neglect.”
Negligence, however, can “be an extremely difficult problem to recognize. Many elderly individuals have difficulty communicating with their loved ones, and this can make it hard to understand that there is a problem. However, a few common warning signs may indicate that an elderly individual has been the victim of nursing home negligence. These signs may include:
- Sudden changes in emotional state
- Withdrawal from friends and relatives
- Unexplained physical injuries
- Abrupt weight loss
- Bed sores
By knowing some of the signs of nursing home neglect and abuse, a family might be able to put a quick end to this mistreatment, not to mention know when they need to file a personal injury claim on the behalf of their loved oneread more