While most personal injury law issues come in the form of an auto accident or a grocery store slip and fall, there are also other aspects of the legal field that sometimes include the most helpless of victims. Nursing home neglect—the neglect of patients by their supposed caretakers—is a major problem in this country (and especially in Florida, where over 17% of the state population is composed of senior citizens). As the Baby Boomers enter prime retirement age and beyond, the nation’s nursing homes can expect more and more patients entering their doors. Furthermore, advances in technology and medicine are keeping our loved ones alive far longer than before—this is another reason why we can expect more and more people living in nursing homes.
Nursing home neglect and abuse isn’t always easy to see, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to detect if you know what to look for. While you won’t often see a caretaker aggressively striking a patient, you might very well see a caretaker neglect his/her duties and responsibilities, thereby neglecting the patient and endangering them. In 1987, the U.S. Congress passed the Nursing Home Reform Act, after widespread insufficient care of nursing home patients came to light. The law requires that nursing homes that accept payments from Medicare and/or Medicaid meet certain standards of care. Thus, these nursing homes are legally required to treat their patients with a certain standard of care, and if they don’t they can be taken to court. In this blog, we’re going to discuss a few common examples of nursing home neglect.
Decubitus ulcers, pressure sores or, more commonly “bed sores,” are a major problem in nursing homes. Elderly nursing home patients are typically the ones who suffer from this condition, a condition that results from extended pressure to a part of the body that is bony and thinly covered with flesh. Parts of the body that typically turn into these bed sore areas include the tailbone, heels, elbows, hips, shoulder blades, etc. Bedsores often originate from presence of moisture due to wet sheets or undergarments, immobility, failure of a caretaker to reposition the patient in bed, and/or malnutrition or dehydration. These ulcers/bed sores are not just inconvenient; they can be incredibly painful and even fatal.
Malnutrition and dehydration are another horrible example of nursing home neglect. They can pose a serious and life-threatening issue for anyone—and especially for nursing home neglect. Malnutrition and dehydration can lead to memory loss/confusion, weakness, loss of muscle mass, infection, and death.
Slip and falls are commonplace in nursing homes. These falls can result in bruises, scrapes, scratches, broken bones, and even death. These falls are caused by wet floors, poor lighting, lack of appropriate bedrails, etc., but more importantly, like bed sores and malnutrition and dehydration, slip and falls are caused by human error—caretaker negligence.
Caretakers act negligently if they fail to treat their patients with appropriate care and the nursing home fails in its duties if it fails to properly train its staff in handling and dealing with the elderly patients. People put their loved ones in nursing homes hoping to make their lives easier, not scarier. If your loved ones have experienced any of the horrors discussed above, or any others, while a patient in a nursing home, you may have a viable case. Nursing home neglect is a serious problem that you and your loved ones shouldn’t have to deal with alone.
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