Nursing Home Abuse & Nursing Home Negligence
When elderly people reside in nursing homes or depend on the assistance of a visiting nurse or caregiver, families expect their relatives are in good hands. But that’s not always the case.
Many studies suggest elder abuse and neglect is a problem much larger than statistics indicate, because elderly people are afraid to report the offender. One study concluded between 7 and 10 percent of elderly people had been physically abused by a caregiver in the previous year.
If you suspect your relative has suffered a nursing home injury as the result of nursing home abuse or neglect, don’t wait to get help. Call us today at (931) 962-1044.
Families might be surprised to learn that a number of nursing homes in Tennessee have been fined repeatedly for health and safety violations.
According to the past three years of inspection reports from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, only two of 320 Tennessee nursing homes inspected had no deficiencies. Some violations inspectors found were:
- Failure to administer medication, or stealing medication from patients
- Failure to reposition patients regularly, resulting in pressure ulcers
- Mishandling patients in a way that caused injury
- Failure to notify a physician and/or family member of a patient’s worsening health
- Hiring employees without adequately investigating their background for incidences of violence against others
- Failure to properly investigate injuries and claims of abuse
- Restraining patients without cause
In many reports, inspectors detailed cases of malnourishment due to improper individualized meal plans, poor records about how much residents were eating, and a failure to document rapid weight loss, due to infrequent or irregular weigh-ins. In one instance, a resident went from 135 pounds to 111 pounds in 45 days.
Nursing Home Theft
It’s hard to imagine nursing home workers stealing money from sleeping residents, but it happens, and it is a form of abuse. Sometimes, it’s $20 from a night table, other times, it’s a long-term misappropriation of residents’ trust accounts.
A nursing home resident’s trust fund can receive payments from family members along with deposits of Medicare payments and other benefit checks. Those funds are supposed to be used for the resident’s care, but unscrupulous people sometimes find ways to use the funds for their own benefit.
In 2013, USA Today wrote about the widespread problem of bookkeepers and administrators stealing from resident trust funds. In one case, a Mississippi office worker billed $101,000 in expenses to the accounts of 83 nursing home residents, buying clothing, makeup, and other items for herself and her family. Her scheme was discovered when another office worker found a receipt for designer jeans, billed to a resident who had no legs.
Residents have a right to review their trust accounts, and they can also appoint a family member or trusted friend to oversee their accounts for them. A person with legal authority to review their loved one’s trust account can keep an eye out for suspicious expenses or unusual purchases and ensure that a nursing home’s accounting reflects the correct deposit amounts family members have made.
Elder Neglect in Tennessee and Northern Alabama
Some forms of nursing home abuse don’t leave external injuries or put people in immediate jeopardy but harm residents nonetheless.
When denied basic rights, residents of nursing homes may suffer emotional and psychological damage that interferes with their quality of life. They may become depressed, have difficulty sleeping, and lose their appetite. In turn, any existing medical problems may become worse.
The office of Medicare advises residents and their families to understand their rights, some of which are:
- To be treated with dignity and respect
- To complain, without fear of punishment or retaliation
- To be able to determine one’s own schedule for going to sleep and waking up
- To participate in activities and to form resident groups
- To spend private time with visitors, and to speak privately on the phone
All of these rights are fundamental to a nursing home resident’s well being.
Keeping Loved Ones Safe
A reputable nursing home that values patients and follows proper procedures should be happy to answer questions from family members, either before or after a relative becomes a resident. Families may want to ask about recordkeeping, hiring practices, dietary plans, and recreational and social activities when evaluating a nursing home for a loved one. And people who need nursing home care but have no cognitive impairment should be involved in deciding which home is best for them.
Nursing homes serve an important role for people who need round-the-clock medical care, but some of them are negligent in their duties. If you suspect your loved one is being mistreated or is in danger, we may be able to help. Call us today at (931) 962-1044, or fill out our online contact form for a no-obligation consultation.