When you entrust an elderly or infirm relative to the care of a nursing home or assisted-living facility, you expect them to be treated with the utmost consideration and respect. Yet many residents are neglected or abused every year, often suffering debilitating injuries or ailments. If you discover that a loved one has been mistreated in any way, there are legal actions available to safeguard them and to win them financial compensation.
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), one in 10 Americans over 60 years of age has experienced some form of elder abuse. Many victims are among the nation's 1.4 million residents of nursing homes or assisted-living centers. What's more, the NCOA says that only one in 14 cases are reported to authorities.
Mistreatment of residents can take several forms, including:
- Neglect and mishandling of patients — A nursing home may fail to attend adequately to patients' basic needs, including assistance in getting in and out of bed or in moving around as required. Signs of neglect or mishandling include bedsores, rashes, bruises from falls and a general unkempt appearance.
- Medication and nutrition errors — Residents may be over- or under-medicated or may be given unprescribed or inappropriate drugs. They may also suffer from malnutrition or dehydration, due either to lack of adequate food and water or to other physical or mental conditions.
- Insufficient trained staff and negligent hiring —Nursing homes may opt to save money by cutting back on personnel, leaving too few trained staffers to give proper care to residents. They may also be lax in their responsibility to hire qualified and trustworthy employees.
- Inadequate medical attention — A facility may fail to provide adequate care, or may commit medical errors, often when there are too few doctors, nurses and aides on staff.
- Poor maintenance of facility — A nursing home may have failed to keep rooms and common areas clean, sanitary and free of dangerous conditions.
- Abuse — Sexual or physical abuse of a resident may be committed by a nursing home worker or another resident. Financial exploitation, in the form of misuse of residents' bank funds or credit cards, is also possible.
If you notice any signs of nursing home neglect or abuse, you need to take immediate action. Reporting the issues to the facility's management is the first step but may be insufficient. You need to consult with an experienced advocate who can conduct a thorough investigation, determine the extent of the problems and take appropriate legal action.
Among the remedies available is to obtain a court injunction prohibiting mistreatment and ordering corrective measures. You can also sue for money damages, such as compensation for pain and suffering, distress, and depression and in the case of death, a wrongful death claim. If the neglect is considered extreme or gross neglect and there is other misconduct and a coverup of the behavior, the loved ones may seek punitive damages intended to punish the facility for its behavior.
Orak & Associates, PC will hold nursing homes responsible when residents have suffered at the hands of uncaring owners and staff. Family members should call Orak & Associates at the first sign of abuse or neglect. Let us be the voice for the voiceless and defend patients' rights. Call our Rockland County office at 917-216-8819 or visit us online.