Nursing Home Negligence
An estimated 8 million people in the U.S. are recipients of long-term care services, such as nursing homes, adult day cares, home health agencies, hospices and assisted living facilities.
The majority of these providers are considered “for-profit,” which means although they are entrusted to care for the most vulnerable among us, the most powerful driver will always be money.
At The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC, our Boston nursing home negligence lawyers know that when profits are the primary goal, there is more likely to be issues with understaffing, reduced services, medical oversights, health care fraud, neglect and abuse.
Those directly affected often cannot speak up for themselves due to physical or mental incapacity, or may fear reprisal if they do.
Worse, these facilities have made it standard practice to require incoming residents to essentially sign away their legal rights in order to gain admission. Buried in the mountain of admission paperwork is almost always an arbitration agreement. These documents are contracts stipulating any disputes will be handled before an arbitrator, rather than before a judge in a court of law. These processes tend to put plaintiffs at a distinct disadvantage – after they have already suffered so much.
Meanwhile, a government report indicates 1 in 3 nursing homes were cited for 9,000 instances of abuse over just a two-year time frame. Among the most common problems cited in the report:
- Untreated bedsores
- Inadequate medical care
- Preventable accidents
- Inadequate sanitation and hygiene
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
In a substantial number of those cases, residents suffered actual harm that was serious enough to place them in immediate jeopardy of serious injury or death.
Often, it is up to loved ones to closely monitor nursing home conditions, staffing and the resident’s physical and mental health for signs of a problem.Identifying Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Although nursing homes in Massachusetts must be licensed by the state, with operators subject to routine inspections, many problems are either overlooked or unreported – until someone is seriously injured or dies as a result.
Abuse and neglect in nursing homes can take varying forms.
Neglect could involve the simple act of failing to move a patient in a bed can result in bedsores that are extremely painful and may result in major infection and even death. Not ensuring each patient is properly fed according to a doctor’s strict guidelines may result in severe malnourishment or dehydration. Medication errors, too, are common and are a form of negligence.
Abuse is also a serious problem. It may take the form of:
- Assault or battery by nursing home staffers (including kicking, slapping, pinching, pushing, shaking or beating)
- Assault or battery by other patients
- Unnecessary or excessive physical restraint
- Chemical restraint (i.e., unnecessarily and dangerously sedating a patient)
- Excessive force or threats of force
- Verbal abuse or ridicule
- Rape or other forms of sexual assault or battery
Horrifying as these revelations are, the signs they are happening are not always obvious. Loved ones are often shocked when they hear or see what their elderly relative has been suffering at the hands of those trusted to care for them.
In many cases, they may learn those hired to work at the facility were not properly trained or did not undergo appropriate background checks.
Although nursing home staffers are required to report suspected abuse and neglect, they often do not, more concerned with protecting the facility than the residents they serve.
If you suspect your loved one may be the target of abuse or neglect, carefully take note of whether you observe the following:
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Pressure ulcers (also known as bed sores)
- Emotional agitation or upset, becoming withdrawn
- Instances of wandering or elopement
- Falls, fractures or head injuries
- Unsanitary conditions
- Unexplained injuries, including wounds, cuts, bruises or welts
- Unexplained death of a resident
- Rapid weight loss or weight gain
- Unusual changes in resident behavior
- Injuries that require emergency medical care or hospitalization
- Frequent illnesses
- Heavy medication
While nursing home abuse or neglect can happen at any facility, particularly high rates have been noted at for-profit facilities, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report have cornered two-thirds of the market.
One of the biggest problems identified with these facilities is health care fraud. Specifically, these firms have been caught overcharging the government through Medicare for treatment that is not necessary or never given.
A report filed by the inspector general’s office of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services revealed 30 percent of the claims billed by for-profit nursing homes were improper, compared to 12 percent by non-profit facilities. This amounts to an estimated $1.5 billion annually taxpayers pay for treatment that is either not needed or not received.
This is directly harmful to patients because they are either undergoing treatment that does not benefit them and may actually be harmful, or they are not receiving care they need and for which the government has paid. Either way, it’s become increasingly common and for-profit centers are the biggest culprit.
Our experienced Boston nursing home abuse attorneys have the dedication and the resources necessary to take on these powerful corporate entities.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.
Call (617) 367-2900 – NO FEE UNLESS SUCCESSFUL
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