Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing home neglect or malpractice is any intentional or negligent act committed by a nursing home employee. This may include doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, therapists, or administrators. As healthcare continues to improve, people are living longer lives, forcing individuals and families to make difficult decisions regarding long term care. For many elderly people, staying at home and living full and productive lives independently is not possible. Facilities for the elderly range from assisted living communities to full nursing home care, depending on the level of care needed. The power discrepancy that is present in many nursing home employee/resident relations makes detecting and reporting malpractice difficult, which is why nursing home malpractice is largely underreported. The federal government estimates that at least thirty percent of all long term care facilities have committed some degree of malpractice in their facilities.

Warning Signs

Physical abuse:

  • Unexplained signs of injury, such as bruises and welts
  • Broken bones or sprains
  • Signs of being restrained

Emotional abuse:

  • Threatening or controlling behavior
  • Behavior that mimics dementia, such as rocking or mumbling to oneself

Neglect:

  • Unsafe living conditions
  • Dirty or unbathed
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Untreated medical problems such as bedsores or pressure sores
  • Malnutrition or Dehydration

Diagnosis & Care

Approximately 1.6 million individuals are cared for in nursing home facilities in the U.S. at any moment in time, and about a quarter of all Americans will receive long term residential care at some point during their life. Many of the facilities that provide long-term care for the aging are owned and run by for-profit companies whose goals often put profits above patient care. Particularly for disabled and sick residents, compromised care often means neglect. Residents who require assistance in daily activities (i.e. feeding, bathing, going to the bathroom, walking) are too often receiving substandard care.

Expenses

The cost of nursing home and assisted living care is extremely expensive, often exceeding $5,000 a month, but for many aging Marylanders, there are no other options. The majority of nursing home residents go through their assets in a year or less, at which time they become eligible for Medicaid benefits. Over 90% of nursing home residents in the U.S. are covered by Medicaid. Subsequently, nearly all nursing home facilities receive Medicaid funding, which requires adherence to strict government regulations that set minimum standards of care. If you believe that a loved one has been injured or neglected in a nursing home, contact our medical malpractice lawyers for a free consultation. Our attorneys are dedicated to protecting the aging Baltimore population.

Quality Controls and Ratings

Nursing home malpractice can harm aging individuals physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, and financially. Although there is no foolproof way to know if nursing home malpractice is going to occur, doing research and choosing a facility wisely is the best way to ensure a safe environment.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services maintains the Five-Star Quality Rating System, which is a useful tool for gauging the quality of care and services in nursing home facilities. The database was created in 2008 with the purpose of helping individuals, families, and caregivers compare and choose nursing homes wisely. Ratings for the nation’s 15,800 nursing homes are based on health inspections, staffing, and quality measures. Medicare’s website allows consumers to search for and find nursing homes by name, city, county, state, or zip code, and then compare the quality of facilities.

Books & Resources

For more information on nursing home negligence and malpractice, the following resources are available: