With the continued aging of the Greatest Generation and the graying of the Baby Boomers, the nursing home population is expected to explode in the coming years. Between 2010 and 2040 the number of people in nursing homes is expected to double.
When you place your loved one in a nursing home or other long term care facility, such as an assisted living facility, skilled nursing facility, rest home, or other elder care facility, you trust that the nursing home and its staff will care for your loved one, and not do anything to endanger or otherwise injure them. When the nursing home agrees to take your family member or loved one on as a resident, the nursing home and its staff undertake a duty to provide a minimum standard of care to all of its residents.
Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities usually offer a positive environment that provides adequate physical and mental stimulation. But sometimes older people are physically, emotionally, sexually, or financially abused at the hands of people who are supposed to be caring for and protecting them.
Tragically, nursing home neglect and abuse is a serious problem in Ohio and throughout the United States. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 10% of all nursing home residents face abuse or neglect on a regular basis. This number is probably higher, and the NCEA includes a caveat in its report acknowledging that nursing home abuse is chronically underreported.
Nursing homes have legal obligations to care for and protect their residents. These duties are rooted in theories of contract law, tort liability, and important state and federal legislation such as the Ohio Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights and the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act.
When your loved one becomes a resident of a nursing home, the facility has a contractual obligation to provide the resident with appropriate care and medical attention. If a nursing home does not adhere to these contractual obligations, they can be held liable for violating the terms of their contract.
When a nursing home or its staff fail to provide adequate care for a resident, a nursing home may be liable under various theories of negligence. The state and federal laws that govern nursing homes are intended to protect the elderly from abuse at the hands of people who are supposed to be caring for them. To determine whether a nursing home was negligent, a court must determine whether the nursing home or its staff violated the standard of care. Reasonable care will vary based on a number of case-specific factors.
Nursing home injuries generally fall into one of the following categories:
Falls. A fall by a young, healthy person might result in minor injuries such as a bruise, twisted ankle, or sore wrist. That same fall for an elderly person, however, can mean irreparable physical harm such as a broken bone that can lead to a permanent loss of mobility. Falls among the elderly can cause injuries that cause the patient’s condition to deteriorate quickly. A broken bone can easily lead to a permanent inability to walk.
Falls may result in head injuries, fractures, and other injuries that could have been prevented by following federal and state standards that require supervision of nursing home residents.
Bedsores. Also known as decubitus ulcers, bedsores are caused by the nursing staff’s failure to reposition bedridden patients. They are also caused by poor nutrition and dehydration. Bedsores are evaluated from Stage 1 to Stage 4, with Stage 1 being the least severe, and Stage 4 as the most severe.
If your loved one is suffering from bedsores, take pictures, alert the medical staff, and contact a nursing home negligence attorney immediately.
Failure to provide timely care. You decided to place your loved ones in a nursing home precisely because you know he or she could not live independently, and has medical needs that you are not able to meet in your own home. You chose a nursing home so that your loved one would have easy and quick access to skilled medical care.
But when medical care is not provided, or was not provided in a timely manner, a nursing home resident can suffer serious infections and injuries that can lead to permanent disabilities, and even death.
Physical abuse. Nursing home staff and administrators have a duty to employ qualified people who will not physically, emotionally, sexually, or financially abuse people in their care.
To prevent your loved one from becoming a victim, be on the lookout for common signs of nursing home abuse or neglect such as:
Some of these signs might be consistent with underlying medical problems. But if you think there’s a problem, you should follow-up to be sure that you are doing your part to provide the best possible environment for your vulnerable loved one. It is always better to be safe rather than sorry.
If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from neglect or abuse in an Ohio nursing home, contact a skilled and experienced Ohio nursing home negligence attorney at Robenalt Law today for a free initial consultation. Call 216-223-7535, complete our online form, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing doctors and hospitals at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 20 years, he has used that experience to help victims and the families of those injured by negligent health care providers.