How Common Is Nursing Home Neglect?
Nursing home neglect — which is one facet of elder abuse — is tragically common. According to the National Council on Aging, 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse.
Nursing home care facilities are high-risk settings when it comes to abuse and neglect because residents are often socially isolated from their loved ones. They may not have contact with their family and friends on a daily or even weekly basis. This social isolation leaves them more vulnerable to neglect than older adults living in the community.
When nursing home neglect happens, the families of nursing home residents may be able to take legal action against those responsible. If you believe or know that your loved one has suffered neglect in a nursing home, connecting with an experienced attorney can help you find a way forward.
What Is Nursing Home Neglect?
While abuse and negligence are both very serious offenses, they aren’t quite the same.
Nursing home abuse is characterized by the intentional infliction of injury, intimidation, or any punishment that causes physical harm, pain, or mental suffering. Examples of abuse include hitting, yelling, making threats, or speaking in harsh tones. Abuse can be physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse or financial abuse.
Nursing home neglect is the refusal or failure of a staff member to fulfill their obligations or duties to an elderly resident. Negligence can be harder for loved ones to spot than abuse, but it can be just as damaging.
Examples of nursing home neglect include:
- Failure to provide adequate food, clothing, or shelter
- Failure to provide medical care or oral/dental care
- Failure to give residents regular baths
- Failure to keep residents hydrated
- Failure to complete range-of-motion exercises
- Failure to provide prescribed wound care (including for bedsores)
- Failure to comply with safety standards when assisting patients with mobility issues
- Failure to help residents when they ask for assistance
Negligence can also be environmental. Failure to provide a safe, clean facility free from environmental hazards can also be a type of neglect.
Prevention Methods for Nursing Home Neglect
It’s important for both loved ones and nursing home staff to take the initiative in preventing cases of neglect.
What you can do to prevent nursing home neglect:
- Communicate: Stay engaged with both residents and nursing home staff. If a resident has concerns or complaints, take them seriously. Make sure the staff knows you are aware of the issue and will be watching to see how it is resolved.
- Educate Yourself: Learn what neglect in a nursing home facility looks like and spread the word to friends and family members. By raising awareness and keeping an eye out, you increase the likelihood that neglect will be noticed and corrected early.
- Research: Ask questions before choosing a facility, like: What is the vetting process for staff members, and what are their qualifications? What is the staff-to-resident ratio? Is there a committee or process that allows residents to voice their concerns and have them addressed? Does the facility have a history of abuse or neglect?
- Visit: Frequent visits are an excellent way to check on the condition of both residents and the facility itself.
Social isolation and a lack of contact with friends and family can leave elderly nursing home residents vulnerable to nursing home neglect. Staying an active and engaged part of your loved ones’ lives when they are in a nursing home is the best way to help prevent neglect from occurring or catching it early if it does.
How to Take Action Against Nursing Home Negligence
When neglect does occur, it’s important to act quickly and decisively to prevent further harm. The first course of action is to report any incident of neglect either to the facility administrators or to the authorities.
If the reports are ignored or the issue is not addressed promptly, the next step may be to get legal assistance from an experienced attorney.
Nursing homes can be held legally liable for the harm residents suffered due to neglect. In cases where the resident has died because of the actions or inaction of the nursing home staff, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed.
When Is it Best to Sue a Nursing Home for Negligence?
The process of suing a nursing home for negligence should begin as soon as possible after the harmful acts occur.
If you are seeking to file a lawsuit against a nursing home for negligence, the first step is to file a complaint against the nursing home.
This complaint is a legal document and includes detailed information, including:
- An explanation of how the victim was hurt
- The identity of the court
- The names of involved parties
- Relevant facts relating to the incidents of neglect
Seeking compensation can help provide a victim of neglect with the ability to seek better care and can prevent others from suffering similar abuses in the future.
How Much Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Neglect?
The amount of compensation received by victims of nursing home neglect varies depending on the specific circumstances of the case. However, a recent study by Health Affairs, a peer-reviewed journal on health policy and services, found that the average amount of paid claims was $406,000.
An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer can help you get the best result from your case.
Hold Negligent Nursing Homes Accountable
Nursing homes and their staff occupy a position of trust. When that trust is broken, it can have devastating consequences for residents and their loved ones.
If the appropriate standard of care is not being met at your facility, you may need to take legal action to protect yourself or the people you love. For example, compensation from nursing home neglect lawsuits can help cover your loved ones’ medical bills and health care.
If you or a loved one has experienced nursing home neglect and you are ready to learn your legal options, you can get a free legal case review today.