Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Happens More Than You Think.
Senior citizens moving into a nursing home, assisted living center, or group home have to face a massive change in their lifestyle and living conditions, and the choice to move into one of these homes isn’t easy for them or their families. According to the National Outbreak Reporting System, there are about 16,639 nursing homes and 52,681 board and care homes housing 3.2 million Americans (900,000 more in assisted living settings). Of these homes, nearly 1 in 3 were cited for federal violations between 1999 and 2001, and in a recent study of 2,000 interviews with nursing home residents, an astounding 44% said they were abused and 95% said they were neglected or had seen another resident neglected.
Although Arizona nursing home laws protect the health, interests, dignity, and rights of residents through certain standards of care, abuse and neglect continues to happen at an alarming rate and the majority of these violations are never reported. Nursing home abuse and neglect are similar in several ways, whereas personal injury and harm is the result of caregiver actions or inactions. While abuse implies an intent to harm, nursing home neglect is generally defined as a breach of duty or substandard care that results in harm.
Grounds of an Elder Abuse and Neglect Lawsuit
As senior citizens become unable see, hear, react, or think as clearly as they used to, they become more vulnerable to abuse. Elder abuse in nursing homes can take many different forms. The most common subsets of abuse include physical abuse (non-accidental use of force), emotional abuse (such as intimidation, humiliation, intentional terrorization, or continual ignorance of the elder’s needs), sexual abuse, financial exploitation, and healthcare fraud and abuse.
Neglect or abandonment is defined as failures to fulfill caregiving obligations, and this form of abuse constitutes nearly half of all cases. Symptoms of neglect can include:
- Malnutrition and unusual weight loss
- Unsanitary or unsafe living conditions
- Desertions of elders in public places
- Untreated physical conditions (bed sores is common)
- Lack of personal hygienic care
- Unsuitable cooling or heating conditions
Steps to Take After Suspecting Elder Abuse and Neglect
Knowing the steps to take when suspecting elder abuse or neglect is crucial. If signs and symptoms are present, make sure to ask the staff questions and report grievances to the nursing home. Also, check financial records and begin documenting and photographing everything. Write to the facility’s manager about the abusive conditions and demand changes (keep a copy of this, and all, documents).
Because nursing homes have a duty to abide by federal and state standards of care, families (and senior citizens) should also file complaints with Scottsdale law enforcement as well as the Arizona Department of Health Services, Adult Protective Services, or the nursing home ombudsman office.
After contacting the authorities, families are entitled to a private attorney to ensure that corrective measures are underway. An attorney will also decide whether a negligence lawsuit is appropriate.
Common Injuries and Damages
Negligent lawsuits hold caregivers and other nursing home staff responsible when their actions have caused harm in a victim. Based on past lawsuits throughout the country, the most common injuries that led to a lawsuit claim included bedsores, harm caused after unsupervised wandering, lack of infrastructure preventing falls, physical abuse, malnutrition and dehydration, medication errors, and lack of supervision that led to choking or death from clogged breathing tubes.
Attorneys have to look at several facets when determining compensation, which may include pain and suffering (physically and emotionally), disability, additional medical expenses, and violations of dignity. In worst case scenarios, these damages include funeral costs, loss of consortium, and support for surviving relatives.
When evaluating a negligent claim, victims must prove that a damage or injury was caused by negligence, and this is often the most difficult aspect. Negligence legal doctrine considers common practices in the industry as well as regulatory standards, and attorneys experienced in nursing home neglect cases will examine medical documents, resident care plans, or other documents to determine exactly where the nursing home deviated from established standards of care. It is, however, important to act quickly regarding suspicions of elder abuse and neglect, and individuals filing the lawsuit should retain all documents and photographs leading up to the lawsuit.
Families demand a level of respect and care for their loved ones, and Arizona law mandates it. If a person suspects abuse or neglect, he or she should take swift action with the facility and law enforcement. Afterwards, a personal injury lawyer with experience in nursing home neglect can help seek full compensation for injuries and suffering.
If you feel that a nursing home has abused or neglected your loved one, we invite you to give us a call at (480) 502-0708 or contact us here for a free initial consultation.
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