Nursing home malpractice comes in many forms, some obvious and some that are hard to spot. Infants and the elderly are among our most vulnerable individuals, but the elderly are often at a greater disadvantage because it is not always clear when they become incapable of speaking up for themselves, and we are more likely to leave them in the care of others.
Nursing home malpractice is any form of neglect or abuse that causes physical, psychological, emotional, financial, or any other damage to a nursing home resident. Government studies show that about one-third of nursing homes in the U.S. have committed malpractice, and in 2003 USA Today reported that half of all nursing home residents suffer from untreated physical pain. Common types of nursing home malpractice include:
- Physical abuse
- Mental/emotional abuse
- Involuntary seclusion
- Sexual abuse
- Verbal abuse
- Lack of supervision
- Wrongful death
In 1987 the Federal Nursing Home Care Reform Act was passed in an attempt to improve and regulate conditions in nursing homes. Government agencies can impose fines and require corrective action if they find that a nursing home is in violation of state or federal standards of care. In addition to government imposed penalties, victims of nursing home malpractice and their loved ones can seek compensation through a lawsuit of their own.
Nursing home lawsuits can include multiple responsible parties including:
- Individual caregivers
- Other staff members
- The nursing home itself
Nursing home residents rarely speak out when they are being abused or neglected because they are afraid, embarrassed, or simply not capable. If you suspect abuse or neglect it is important to act quickly. Your loved one’s life may depend on it. In most cases the first step is to talk to staff, nurses, caregivers, and/or those in charge of the nursing home. If no action is taken at that point, you would contact your state’s Health Department and possibly your state’s attorney general. However, many people have the very real fear that if they take any action at all, their loved one may be harmed or even killed. If you suspect that there is any danger of retaliation, you should move you loved one to a different facility immediately, before taking other measures. Be sure to write down everything that has happened including any behavioral, health, and weight changes in the nursing home resident and the behavior of the nursing home staff. If there is any physical evidence of abuse or neglect, such as bruises or bed sores, take photographs.
You also need to consult with an experienced nursing home abuse attorneyright away. If you determine that your loved one has been harmed or has died due to nursing home negligence or abuse, you will have a limited amount of time to pursue your case. It may be difficult to determine who is responsible and there will probably be multiple responsible parties. If a government entity is involved, such as a state-run nursing home or even social workers participating in care, you may have even less time to act and the process is somewhat different.
Nursing home malpractice is a very serious matter which almost always involves pain and suffering for the victim until action is taken, and can easily result in death. Unfortunately it is all too common.
If you or a loved one has been the victim or nursing home malpractice contact an experienced nursing home negligence attorney.
Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
- In Arizona, Contact Cullan & Cullan, M.D., J.D. – Lawyers who are also doctors.