Nursing Home Abuse

Feb 19, 2020 By Andrea Gold Read in 5 minutes

Your family member has rights, and if they are not being upheld or you think he or she is being abused, you may have the right to sue the nursing home.

In 1987, the Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) was passed to help end abuse that was taking place in nursing homes across the United States. The act was created to ensure the safety and welfare of nursing home residents.

Unfortunately, nursing home abuse continues to be a problem. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), two out of three nursing home staff members admitted to abusing residents just last year. This is why it’s essential to pay attention to the care a loved one receives in a nursing facility.

Your family member has rights, and if they are not being upheld or you think he or she is being abused, you may have the right to sue the nursing home on behalf of your loved one. In most cases, when a resident is being abused in a long-term care facility, there are signs. Some residents are reluctant to tell family members they are afraid or they’re being treated poorly. There are things you can look for to determine whether your family member is being abused.

What Constitutes Nursing Home Abuse?

  • Nursing Home Abuse: is any intentional harm that comes to a resident in a long-term care facility. If your loved one is being intimidated, confined unreasonably, physically hurt, or subjected to any mental anguish, then abuse is taking place.
  • Nursing Home Neglect: is when a staff member doesn’t provide adequate care for a resident. This can take place in the form of lack of cleanliness, isolation, not giving medication on time, or failure to react to potential danger.

Types of Nursing Home Abuse

Sexual abuse

Many long-term care residents are frail and unable to fight back, which makes them an easy target for sexual abuse. Some conditions make residents more prone to this type of abuse. Residents with dementia and Alzheimers are less likely to tell family members about sexual abuse partly because they don’t recall the incident. The perpetrator can be an aid, nurse, staff member, and even a visitor to another resident.

Financial

Residents who are known to have a substantial amount of money are more likely to be targets of financial abuse.

Signs of this type of abuse are recent revisions to wills and other legal documents, withdrawals from bank accounts, stealing of belongings or cash, delaying bill payments, and cashing checks without consent.

Physical Abuse

  • Hitting
  • Kicking
  • Pushing
  • Excessive restraining
  • Force-feeding
  • Overmedicating
  • Improperly restraining

Emotional Abuse

  • Yelling
  • Abusive language
  • Intimidation
  • Manipulation
  • Isolation
  • Bullying
  • Harassment

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

  • Bruises
  • Cuts
  • Bedsores
  • Broken bones
  • Dehydration
  • Moodiness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Weight Loss
  • Poor hygiene

Examples of Nursing Home Negligence

  • Negligent Hiring -long-term care facilities are required to hire staff members who are educated in this field, meet the state and federal requirements and pass a background check. If a resident is injured by a staff member who wasn’t adequately educated or has a criminal record and wasn’t given a background check, the facility can be held liable.
  • Understaffing-it isn’t uncommon to find an understaffed nursing home. Nursing homes are required to have a certain staff-to-patient ratio. If this ratio is not being met, the care of patients can decline. This can lead to medication errors, as well as other forms of neglect.
  • Lack of training-nursing home facilities are required by law to train their staff. If a patient is injured due to inadequate training, the nursing home can be held liable. It’s the nursing home’s responsibility to train staff members on how to administer medication properly and how to handle unruly patients.

Causes of Nursing Home Abuse

  • Burnout- overworked staff can lead to burnout, which can lead to neglect and, in some cases, abuse of residents.
  • For-profit-about 70% of nursing homes are for-profit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When a nursing home is for-profit, it affects financial decisions such as hiring staff and taking care of the facility. Some of the for-profit facilities are focused on making money and less on the care of the residents. In a report by the journal Gerontology, it was found that nearly twice as many residents in for-profit nursing facilities suffered health issues as a result of poor care.
  • Lack of supervision-if the nursing home management team doesn't have high standards in place as well as accountability, this could lead to staff members thinking they can get away with things. This type of environment can lead to continued abuse and neglect because there aren’t any consequences in place.
  • Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA)

    The Nursing Home Reform Act was passed in 1987. Under this act, nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid are required to meet specific rights outlined in (42 CFR Part 483, Subpart B). Below are the Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights under the (NHRA).

    Nursing Home Residents’ Bill of Rights

    • The right to live in a caring environment free from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect
    • The right to live without the fear of enduring physical restraint
    • The right to privacy
    • The right to receive personal care that accommodates physical, medical, emotional and social needs
    • The right to social contact and interaction with fellow residents and family members
    • The right to be treated with dignity
    • The right to exercise self-determination
    • The right to use freedom of speech and communicate freely
    • The right to participate in the creation and review of one’s individualized care plan
    • The right to be fully informed in advance of any changes to care plan or status of the nursing home
    • The right to voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal
    If you have a loved one in a nursing home, and you believe his or her rights are being violated you may have the right to legal action against the nursing home on your loved one’s behalf.