Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

Physical and mental abuse and neglect of our elderly is a silent and disgusting crime.

According to a recent congressional report, elderly abuse and neglect violations serious enough to cause actual harm or place residents in immediate jeopardy of death or serious injury occur in more than 1,600 of this country’s 17,000 nursing homes.

Since 1996 the percentage of nursing homes cited for abuse has doubled.

Causes of Abuse and Neglect

Because it has only focused on housing the elderly at the lowest possible cost, the nursing home industry’s indifference to level of care has resulted in staffing with minimal qualifications, insufficient training, low wages, and high turnover.

For example, because each certified Nursing Assistant is typically responsible for 15-20 residents per 7.5 hour shift, nursing home residents receive no more than 30 minutes of daily attention.

As a result of being virtually ignored, residents suffer serious and life-threatening problems including weight loss, failure to treat pressure sores or manage pain effectively, hospitalization, malnutrition, dehydration and even starvation.

Further, fearful of reprisals and losing whatever support they have, elderly with disabilities are unlikely to complain about abuse, neglect or victimization.

Signs & Symptoms of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Early warning signs of nursing home abuse and neglect include:
1. unexplained bruises, cuts, burns, sprains, or fractures in various stages of healing;
bedsores or frozen joints;
2. unexplained venereal disease or genital infections, vaginal or anal bleeding, torn, stained, or blooding underclothing;
3. sudden changes in behavior;
4. staff refusing to allow visitors to see resident or delays in allowing visitors to see resident;
5. staff not allowing resident to be alone with visitor;
6. resident being kept in an over-medicated state;
7. loss of resident's possessions;
8. sudden large withdrawals from bank accounts or changes in banking practices; or
9. abrupt changes in will or other financial documents.

Nursing Homes Held Accountable for Abuse and Neglect

After years of providing poor elder care, nursing homes are finally being held accountable.

A flood of lawsuits have been filed and grieving families are receiving compensation for pain, suffering and the untimely death of loved ones.

If your elderly loved one has been neglected, abused, or injured while in the care of a nursing home or other healthcare facility, contact today.