Nursing Home Abuse
The elderly people of this world who cared for others all of their lives and who are now fully dependent on others need champions. I want to be their champion. I want to help those seniors who can’t help themselves.
Most nursing homes are for-profit businesses that want to maximize their profits; the less they spend on their patients, the more money they’ll make. This can result in understaffing and patients can suffer as a consequence.
You can easily imagine a home’s reluctance to self-report abuse and neglect of their residents. All too often, family and others outside the nursing home have to initiate action if they suspect their loved ones are being abused.
Looking at Expectations Versus Reality
Nursing homes offer a wide range of long-term care services for those who are generally healthy, but are still no longer able to care for themselves—those who need help 24/7. Typically, their families have tried to care for them but realized they didn’t have the expertise or the time to do so. They felt guilty about putting an elderly mother or father in a nursing home, but they were more concerned with their loved ones’ safety and comfort. They were sure others could better handle their loved ones’ needs.
Too often, this isn’t the case, and it doesn’t look like that will change as baby boomers age and become an even greater source of profit for these businesses.
Nursing home abuse can take many forms because a nursing home’s responsibility for its residents is wide ranging. Neglect is the most common; if residents don’t get help with showering, dressing, eating, or don’t get the medical attention their bedsores cry out for, they suffer.
Physical abuse is the insidious flip-side of neglect; residents can be hit by frustrated staffers or be medicated for the staff’s benefit.
Residents can also suffer emotional abuse—berating and taunting by the staff that their families don’t witness. Additionally, sexual abuse is unfortunately more common than we’d like to believe, and it could be at the hands of not only a staffer, but also a fellow resident. Residents can also face financial abuse—credit cards stolen or pressure to buy raffle tickets they can’t afford.
For fear of retaliation, many elderly are worried about complaining, that is, if they know what’s going on; Alzheimer’s patients are easier targets for abuse.
Defending the Rights of Nursing Home Residents
Our loved ones need our protection from abuse in whatever form it takes. Though there are plenty of good nursing homes out there that are staffed with compassionate, caring, and trained people top to bottom, the pain and suffering others can inflict is terrible.
The fact is that nursing home residents have rights—the right to report abuse effectively, the right to privacy, the right to attend religious functions of their choice, and many more that are the nursing homes’ responsibility to publicize, honor, and enforce. Don’t count on them to take their responsibility to heart, however.
You can take steps to make a claim against a nursing home—best done with the advice of an attorney who is knowledgeable about nursing home abuse. Questions about who will actually file the claim for suffering and abuse and who the actual defendant is (it could be an out-of-state mega corporation) need answers.
Filing a claim could be a way of exacting a confession of responsibility from a nursing home and receiving compensation for the harms done, but that requires the home’s admission of responsibility for the neglect or abuse. Again, it will most likely be a for-profit business that wants to protect its bottom line and not attract negative publicity.
Taking a Case to Court
Filing a lawsuit could be the next step. For that, you’ll need someone very familiar with the law about nursing home abuse; an attorney who concentrates on that area.
The investigation of nursing home abuse can become complex—finding medical records, having them independently evaluated, interviewing witnesses—it’s a process certain lawyers, to say nothing about most laypeople, aren’t trained to handle.
The crux of the matter is establishing what abuse occurred, why it occurred, and who exactly caused it. A successful lawsuit will establish that a home violated a certain standard of care that directly resulted in harm to a resident.
Assuming the statute of limitations—the time during which someone can file a suit—hasn’t been exceeded, a case of abuse could be arbitrated or decided by the court.
Making a Life Changing Decision
Nursing home cases are heartbreakers. Whole families can feel guilty about letting down a loved one who has suffered or even died due to nursing home abuse or neglect.
I’m here to say that the elderly harmed in nursing homes, and their families, have rights that should never be violated. They have a right to justice for themselves, for other victims, and for potential victims of nursing home abuse.
I encourage you to read my book, Nursing Home Abuse and your Loved Ones. It will offer you much more information on what you should do if you think your loved one has suffered or is suffering abuse at a home. I also encourage you to get in touch with us, lawyers who focus on nursing home abuse, if you think you or a loved one might be suffering from abuse or neglect.
There’s too much at stake not to.
Eric J. Hertz, PC
Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers