About one in eight Americans were elderly in 1994, but about one in five will be elderly by the year 2030. “There are nearly 17,000 nursing homes in the United States that currently care for 1.6 million residents — a figure expected to quadruple to 6.6 million residents by 2050.” ~U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Government Reform- Minority Office
Elderly abuse and neglect is a form of abuse where caregivers treat a resident of a nursing home or assisted living facility poorly. Eye witness accounts and surveys have sadly shown that such abuse and neglect is a serious problem, and that there also is significant underreporting. Major underlying causes of elder mistreatment, according to findings of the National Academy of Sciences Panel to Review Risk and Prevalence of Elder Abuse and Neglect, are stressful working conditions, particularly staff shortages, staff burnout, and inadequate staff training. Some common types of nursing home neglect include lack of supervision resulting in falls or injuries, negligent medication or mistakes in prescription drugs, illness or infection due to unsanitary conditions, pressure sores or bed sores, malnutrition or dehydration, and physical assault or sexual assault.
While abuse and neglect might not always be obvious, there are certain signs that could reveal that a person is not treated properly: Non-communicative and extremely withdrawn, unusual behavior, such as rocking, sucking, biting, or confusion or sudden dementia. Signs of neglect include: underfeeding, dehydration, under medicated, and unsanitary or unclean conditions. Signs of physical abuse include bed-sores, skin damage, broken bones, bruises, loss of weight, burns, and fearfulness.
In response to reports of widespread neglect and abuse in nursing homes in the 1980s, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation in 1987 to require nursing homes participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs to comply with certain requirements for standardized quality of care. This law was known as the Nursing Home Reform Act. Ohio also protects the rights of the elderly through various laws, including the Nursing Home Bill of Rights.
If you think that a loved one is being abused or neglected by nursing home employees, you should get immediate assistance and seek medical attention if necessary. And that’s the point when you should also seek the help of a qualified attorney. While monetary damages for the abused can be claimed, a lawsuit with adequate consequences may also set an example for other care institutions, which may then save many others from pointless abuse and uncalled for neglect.
The lawyers of Petersen & Petersen have successfully represented victims of nursing home and assisted living negligence and abuse. The following is one recent example:
$1.5 million settlement in a nursing home negligence and wrongful death claim.
The client claimed that a greater than 75 year old woman was the victim of substandard nursing care during an inpatient rehabilitation stay following a five day stay at the hospital for pneumonia. She was readmitted in stable condition. She was found unconscious and unresponsive less than 24 hours later. Plaintiff brought suit, alleging the nursing care was negligent and caused the woman’s death. Punitive damages were also alleged. The defendant nursing provider disputed the allegations. The remaining terms of the settlement, including but not limited to the identity of the parties and Court in which the matter was pending, are confidential.