How Safe Really are Nursing Homes?

Posted by on Nov 12, 2015 in Personal Injury | 0 comments

A study that was organized by the minority staff of the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee revealed that, from January 1999 to January 2001, about 5,283 nursing homes in the US were guilty of as many as 9,000 acts of abuse against residents who basically depended on them even in the most basic of tasks.

Taking care of nursing home residents can be a very demanding task, especially in facilities where the number of residents is too many for the staff to handle. For American families, however, turning to a nursing home that will be able to ensure provision of the amount and quality of care and attention that their elderly loved ones need is very important.

The undue abuses suffered by elders in nursing homes, though, seem to be far from over. In 2005, workers from the Georgia-based Adult Protective Services of the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) said that the calls they received regarding vulnerable adult abuse numbered to 500 every month. In 2013, also in Georgia, 21 former and present employees, as well as the owner, of a nursing home for Alzheimer’s patients were charged with no less than 70 criminal offenses due to abuse of elderly patients.

Adult Protective Services workers are usually the first to respond to reports of neglect, abuse and exploitation of vulnerable adults. By elder abuse, NCEA’s Department of Health and Human Services means “any behavior or action within a relationship of trust that harms an older person.” A personal injury lawyer would point out that abuse can take many different forms: it can be physical, psychological, social, financial and, the worst and most humiliating of all, sexual.

Some of the specific acts of abuses that have been committed by staff members or nurses include: throwing water on patients or striking them; restraining patients using bed sheets; putting two diapers on patients so they don’t have to be changed often; repeatedly disregarding, yelling and/or habitual blaming, scaring or threatening, and humiliating elders; refusing patients food and/or water; not changing patients’ bed sheet; making elders fight against each other; refusing to treat bed sores; taking money from patients; and, molesting patients. All these and so many more, besides failing to keep some private and public rooms sanitize.

While many abuses have resulted to bodily injuries and mental or emotional anguish, some cases were serious enough to cause death. Many residents, it may be true, sustain injuries through their own fault; however, so many more get injured due to the reckless, negligent and abusive behavior of people hired and paid to care for them. Injuries caused by these types of behavior are called personal injuries and, under the law, people who suffer these have all the right to pursue legal action against the party guilty of the act and its injurious results.

Nursing home residents, however, seldom talk about the pains and injuries inflicted on them. This may be due to fear or embarrassment. Thus, the greater responsibility lies on the kin of elders, who should be totally observant on any signs of abuse. A sudden change in an elder’s behavior, like sudden display of low self-esteem, avoidance of eye contact, feeling of fear or disturbance, silence, or becoming withdrawn and depressed, can be hints that something is not right.

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