While some people go to a nursing home for rehabilitation or recuperation after an injury or hospitalization, most go there for hospice care — meaning for the rest of their lives. Approximately one in five deaths in the United States takes place in a nursing home.
Nursing home neglect and abuse is more common than you may think
Frailty, medical issues, and possible lack of mental clarity leave our loved ones extremely vulnerable and defenseless. Various studies conducted over the past decade have shown that residents suffer abuse or neglect in one in three nursing homes in the United States—in one study, over half the nursing staff interviewed admitted to mistreating older residents. Abuse may be physical, sexual, psychological, or financial. Neglect may mean the refusal to provide food, clothing, toileting, or medical treatment.
Signs of neglect and abuse
Sadly, much of the nursing home abuse and neglect goes undetected because the victims are simply not able to express their pain or report it to others. That’s why it’s crucial for you to be on the alert for any signs or symptoms of abuse. Any one or more of the following might indicate abuse or neglect and should be investigated:
- skin rash
- lack of personal hygiene
- smell of urine and/or feces
- bone fractures
- cuts, bruises or lesions
- significant weight loss
- depression, fear or anxiety
- refusal or inability to communicate
Nursing home neglect and abuse is a crime
In response to reports of widespread neglect and abuse, Congress enacted the Nursing Home Reform Act. This law requires nursing homes that participate in Medicare or Medicaid to provide services and activities to maintain that best possible physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of their residents. State regulations provide residents of New Jersey with additional resident rights, which include the right to live in a clean and safe facility, the right to be free of restraints and the right to voice your complaints without threats or intimidation.
Holding nursing homes accountable
Under state and federal laws, victims of nursing home abuse and/or their loved ones can seek damages for pain and suffering, medical negligence, financial exploitation, and more. If you suspect your loved one has been the victim of nursing abuse or neglect, or want to protect them by having an attorney review their care plan prior to admission in a nursing home, consult with one of Hoffman DiMuzio’s experienced personal injury lawyers.
Publication approved by Donald F. Browne, Jr., Esq., Hoffman DiMuzio