Florida Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect A Growing Problem: Here’s How to Prevent It, Spot It, Report It
December 11, 2017
This post on nursing home abuse and neglect is contributed by Attorney Michael Brevda of the Senior Justice Law Firm. If you have a possible case of nursing home abuse and neglect, please call the The Karp Law Firm to discuss your case, at 800-893-9911.
As America’s population lives longer than ever before, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are enjoying record-breaking occupancy rates. Unfortunately, over-packed and understaffed facilities lead to nursing home abuse and neglect injuries. Arming yourself with knowledge is your best weapon in combating this growing trend of elder neglect.
What is Considered ‘Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect’?
For many, nursing home abuse and neglect evokes horrifying images of physical abuse by a caretaker. It’s important to note that physical abuse only accounts for a small percentage of nursing home abuse and neglect cases.
Nursing home abuse and neglect is defined by The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) as “failures by a caregiver to satisfy the elder’s basic needs or to protect the elder from harm.” This means nursing home abuse includes:
- Bedsore development because staff did not move the patient in bed.
- Fractures from falls that could have been prevented
- Unexplained broken bones.
- Medication mistakes by an overworked or undertrained nurse.
- Dehydration or malnutrition when facility staff ignores a patient’s food/water intake.
- Wrongful death caused by staff neglect of a resident’s deteriorating condition.
An NCEA research brief cites the following startling statistics:
- Only 1 in 14 cases of nursing home neglect gets reported;
- 1 in 3 nursing homes were cited for deficiencies;
- 95% of sampled residents either were neglected themselves or they witnessed another resident suffer abuse/neglect;
- More than half of the nursing home staff sampled admitted to neglecting or abusing residents in the past year.
Stopping Neglect Before an Injury
If your loved one resides in a nursing home or assisted living facility, take the following steps to prevent them from being neglected:
- ETA: Unknown (and unexpected!). Visit often and at random times. Do not announce your visits.
- Q and A, every day. Speak with staff and ask questions. Keep a care journal of who you spoke with. Make sure the staff knows you are following up on prior questions and concerns.
- The squeaky wheel gets the grease. If something doesn’t seem right, make sure you express your concerns to the CNAs, the Director of Nursing and the facility doctor. If your family member has not been showered since you saw them last, bring this to the staff’s attention. If they have a new bruise on their leg, make sure that makes it into the chart. Accountability creates action from facility nurses.
- Bribe them with sugar. Place a bowl of candy in your family members room. This sounds silly, but the nurses will come in and eat the candy throughout their shift. This ensures the staff will check on your family member often while you are not there.
Steps to Take After a Loved One is Injured in a Nursing Home
The cycle of nursing home abuse can only be stopped by taking action and reporting the incident. If you do not report it, you are allowing it to happen to the next resident. The Administration on Aging recommends the following steps if you suspect your family member was abused or neglected in a nursing home:
- Call 911 if your family member is in immediate danger or has suffered a severe injury.
- Next, contact your local Adult Protective Services state agency. Here in Florida, you can call 1-800-96-ABUSE to report elder neglect inside a nursing home or ALF.
- Have your loved one checked out by an outside doctor who has no relationship with the negligent nursing home.
- Speak with a nursing home abuse attorney who can gather your records and help you get answers on why the incident occurred.