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Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Given the aging nature of the American population, there are many nursing homes in Seattle, Kirkland, Olympia, and Bellingham. Nursing home abuse and neglect can take a terrible toll on the elderly individual and the family of the loved one. While there can be early warning signs of abuse or neglect, often times there is none until it is too late. The ill-effects of abuse or neglect can lead to injury, hospitalization, and even death of the elderly family member. If an elderly individual is harmed, the facility may be sued.

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

There are many nursing homes in the US. More than 1.4 million people live in nursing homes. There are approximately 15,600 nursing homes in the country. There are 13 million people in this country who are over the age of 65. There have been almost 2.3 million adults over the age of 65 who have reported being abused at nursing homes and that number is expected to rise given the aging of America and the inevitability that most Americans will at some point in their life need to go to a nursing home. Sadly, many nursing home abuse cases are never disclosed to the proper authorities and the abuse continues to go on at these facilities.

There is a distinction between for-profit and non-profit nursing homes. About 70% of all nursing homes are for-profit, with the rest being controlled by the government. As you can imagine, the living conditions for nursing homes can vary widely, with some being state of the art and luxurious and others being slum-like. About 37% of all nursing homes were found to be substandard and in bad shape. In sum, a large part of the problem is that these nursing homes are not properly staffed with enough people. A lot of nursing homes try to cut corners or get by with less people because less people, or less employees, means more profits for the company. But this can lead to deadly consequences.

There are laws that exist on the books to help the elderly from the abuses that can occur at nursing homes. In 1987, a law passed called the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. The purpose of this law was to help the elderly in nursing homes. This was an important law because for those nursing homes that are not private homes, in order to receiving federal funding from Medicare and Medicaid, then there had to be satisfactory compliance with the law in order to get the funds.

Nursing Home Abuse Washington State Laws

When we talk about elderly abuse and neglect, it is helpful to understand how the law defines abuse and neglect. Abuse means willful or non-accidental action or inaction that harms a vulnerable adult. This harm can be anything from intimidation, punishment, holding a person against their will, or inducting a physical, sexual, or mental injury.

Neglect occurs when a person or nursing home facility that has a duty to care for a vulnerable adult fails to act in a way that deprives the vulnerable adult the care needed for his or her mental or physical health. There are state laws and federal laws governing this matter.

There are laws that exist at the federal level to help the elderly from the abuses that can occur at nursing homes. In 1987, a law passed called the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. The purpose of this law was to help the elderly in nursing homes.

This was an important law because for those nursing homes that are not private homes, in order to receiving federal funding from Medicare and Medicaid, then there had to be satisfactory compliance with the law in order to get the funds. As defined by Washington State law, a vulnerable adult is someone who is 60 years of age or older who lacks the functional, mental, or physical ability to care for him or herself, found incapacitated, has a developmental disability, has been admitted to any facility, or is receiving services from a home health, hospice, or home care agency licensed or required to be licensed by the state, receives services from an individual provider, or who self-directs his or her own care and receives services from a personal aid.

As a loved one, you do not have to monitor a vulnerable adult’s condition. Washington State has a Mandatory Reporters law requires professionals to report suspicions if they believe a vulnerable adult is a victim of abuse, abandonment, neglect or financial exploitation. Owners or employees of nursing homes, boarding homes, or adult family homes are considered mandatory reporters. If a Mandatory Reporter fails to report nursing home abuse or neglect, he or she may be guilty of criminal inaction. In addition, he/she may be found liable under civil law for damages resulting from the abuse or neglect.

Mandatory reporters are social workers, medical professionals, such as doctors, nurses, therapists, and the county coroner and medical examiner. State law in Washington also has some very specific laws to help the elderly as well and these include the following rights:

  • Be informed of services the nursing home has to offer
  • Ability to access rules of the nursing home
  • Be notified of any changes
  • Adequate personal and medical care and treatment
  • Be informed of medical condition changes
  • Refuse restraints of a physical or chemical nature
  • Make personal decisions
  • Have accommodations that are reasonable
  • Choose your own doctor
  • Privacy and dignity and confidentiality
  • Free of mental or physical abuse through restraints
  • Manager your own finances
  • File a complaint against the nursing home
  • Remain in the home until a transfer or a discharge takes place
  • Have family and friends and visitors come, along with doctors, to visit
  • Remain free of discrimination and coercion

These are all of the rights that a patient inside a nursing home has. If any of these rights are compromised, a claim can be made against the nursing home for abuse and/or neglect.

Most Common Forms of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

While nursing home abuse and neglect and take on a variety of forms, the most common are:

  • Bed sores or ulcers, including decubitus ulcers
  • Broken bones
  • Choking
  • Dehydration and malnutrition,
  • Infections, including urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • Sexual and physical abuse
  • Medication errors, and
  • Patients wandering off the premises

If you know of a loved one who is elderly and living in a nursing home or assisted living facility and has these conditions, then you need to speak to The Jackman Law Firm and possibly local authorities, such as the police, as well. In addition, calling medical personnel, such as a doctor, is also in order so your elderly relative gets the medical care they need in order to get better.

By far the most common reason abuse occurs at a nursing home is understaffing by the nursing home. Ideally, a nursing home should never have one staff member assigned to 10 or more elderly people. Even 10 may be too high of a number. The lower the staff-to-patient ratio, the better the nursing home usually, and the safer and the less likely there will be injuries to the elderly residents. However, this kind of low staff-to-elderly ratio is not always the case. Many nursing homes have seen explosions in the number of people admitted to their facilities in recent years as the American population continues to age.

Reporting Nursing Home Abuse

If a loved one you know has been abused at a nursing home, then reporting the abuse is very important. You have a few different options as to who you should report the abuse to. You can notify the better business beau, the police, and Washington State Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, you can call the Jackman Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss your case. All of these are viable options.

In addition to these, you should also document what the nursing home has told you by way of explanation for how your loved one was hurt or mistreated. Ask for them to relay this information to you in writing, preferably in an email, so it can be saved and reviewed later.

How The Jackman Law Firm can Help

After discovering that an elderly loved one has been injured or mistreated at a nursing home, it can be very hard to comprehend. Going through this can make people feel upset and angry and make them want to hold the responsible parties accountable for what went wrong. You may also be searching for answers. The Jackman Law Firm can help you find these answers. We can also help you recover the following:

  • Money for medical bills
  • Money for pain and suffering
  • Money for out of pocket expenses

The Jackman Law Firm has the resources to help you recover all of these damages. We can also help negotiate with the insurance company for the nursing home to ensure you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. As you can imagine, the insurance company for the nursing home will not likely simply approach you and offer you money for your injuries. It will take some work and some negotiations to get you the compensation you deserve. We have the resources to get you what you deserve.

Feel free to call for a free consultation.

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