If you have a loved one living in a nursing home, you likely hope and expect that they receive the highest-quality care available. However, some care providers neglect or abuse the elderly individuals in their care, jeopardizing the victims' safety, health, and quality of life. Learn from the skilled Bradenton nursing home abuse attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA what you can do to help your loved ones.
If you believe that a loved one has been harmed due to nursing home abuse or neglect, contact an experienced, dedicated Bradenton Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA to discuss your legal options.
About Our Bradenton Nursing Home Attorneys
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA have helped many people, including those who were injured in motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents, wrongful death, and nursing home neglect and abuse.
The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA was founded in 2009 by president and managing partner Matthew Dolman. Firm grew, the attorneys realized that they shared a common vision for the benefit of all of their clients and decided to combine their experience.
With offices along both Florida coasts, including Bradenton, Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA includes experienced lawyers, as well as a skilled and dedicated support staff. Together, their efforts have resulted in millions of dollars in compensation for our clients.
How We Help Bradenton Nursing Home Victims
As the Florida population ages, nursing home abuse and neglect is a growing problem. In recent years, there have been allegations of abuse and neglect in many nursing homes throughout Florida. Overall, nursing homes often fail to provide the quality of care and professionalism that their residents deserve. The facility may be understaffed or staffed with unqualified, untrained employees. Residents may be at the mercy of indifferent, irresponsible, or even cruel staff.
Trapped in such a difficult situation, residents are usually unable or hesitant to defend themselves. They may be frightened, bullied, and physically or mentally incapacitated. Families and friends may be intimidated or lack the resources to fight back against a large nursing home corporation. Victims of nursing home abuse or neglect need someone with the skills, compassion, and dedication to protect and defend them. In short, they need an outstanding attorney to fight for their rights.
Even when the negligence is obvious, nursing home abuse or neglect cases are neither simple nor easy. People generally assume that aging residents are expected to suffer a decline in health. The victim and their loved ones may be positive that neglect is the cause of the deterioration, but proving it in a court of law can be hard. Also, victims often cannot speak on their own behalf, or, in some cases, they have already died from nursing home neglect or abuse.
It takes skill and determination to overcome the obstacles involved in nursing home injury claims. However, an experienced Bradenton nursing hom attorney gives you the best chance for success. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA have a strong record of success in personal injury cases and an abundance of resources to pursue a just settlement, whether through negotiations or jury trials.
One of our award-winning Bradenton personal injury attorneys meets with each potential client to evaluate his or her case and explain their legal options. Once someone becomes a client of the firm, our experienced team works with the client to pursue the claim and will work zealously to obtain the best possible outcome. We use the latest technology and innovations to handle complex cases efficiently, but what really makes us stand out is our personal client relationships.
For our nursing home clients, our accessibility, communication, and unwavering commitment to personal service let them know that we are dedicated to taking care of them.
Bradenton Nursing Home Negligence FAQ
In just one year, 52 million individuals in the U.S. were over the age of 65. From 2020 to 2030, when the last members of the baby boom generation turn 65, that number is expected to grow by almost 18 million. According to the Florida Health Care Association, about 20 percent of Florida's population are 65 and older, and by 2030, over one in four will be in this age group.
Whether due to physical or mental problems, or other age-related disabilities, many of the elderly population will reside in nursing homes. As individuals become more dependent, their risk of abuse rises. Florida has around 72,740 nursing home residents in 700 nursing homes. Approximately 1 in 10 older individuals suffers from abuse or neglect every year.
One recent year showed about 72,741 nursing home residents in Florida. As the senior population increases, so does the problem of nursing home negligence.
Nursing homes provide care for some of society's most vulnerable members. While some facilities provide excellent care to their residents, others do not. Approximately one in 10 older individuals suffers from abuse or neglect every year. The risk of abuse becomes greater as a resident's dependence increases. Therefore, people with Alzheimer's and other debilitating conditions are especially in need of protection.
What constitutes nursing home negligence?
Negligence may involve physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, or financial abuse.
Common types of negligence on the part of nursing homeowners, administrators, and staff members are:
- Failure to provide adequate medical treatment - Inadequate or substandard medical care may lead to a case for medical malpractice against the nursing home facility or the individual medical professional who provided the care.
- Medication errors - Residents may be unable to monitor their own medications, so nursing home staff must deliver the correct medications, in the correct amounts, to each patient. Staff members must administer medications according to their instructions and maintain accurate medication records.
- Inadequate staffing levels - Nursing homes are responsible for hiring, training, and keeping enough qualified employees to meet the needs of their residents.
- Negligent hiring of employees - Nursing home administrators should take certain steps, such as background checks, drug screening, confirming educational credentials, checking references, and evaluating driving records, to ensure that their residents are in safe hands.
- Failure to establish and maintain health and safety policies - A nursing home must keep all areas clean and safe for residents. This is especially important to avoid the spread of contagious diseases.
- Inadequate supervision of residents - Each resident's needs are different. Many residents need supervision when walking, bathing, eating, drinking, and engaging in recreational activities.
- Dehydration or malnutrition - Staff must ensure that residents receive appropriate food and water intake every day. Residents may be unable to recognize signs of hunger or thirst or unwilling to ask for what they need.
- Falls or drops - Many nursing home residents are fall risks and require assistance in moving about. Nursing homes must take care to ensure that these residents are moved and transported appropriately.
- Failure to keep the premises reasonably free from hazards - Administrators must promptly correct safety hazards, such as inadequate lighting in hallways or common areas, obstructed walkways, loose carpets and floor coverings, as well as missing or damaged handrails in bathrooms.
What is nursing home abuse?
Abuse can take several forms:
- Physical abuse may include actions such as hitting, kicking, or physically injuring a resident. Warning signs of physical abuse include bruises or welts, restraint marks on wrists or ankles, and broken eyeglasses.
- Emotional abuse can take many forms, such as yelling, threatening, or belittling residents. It happens when staff treats or handles a resident in a way that causes emotional distress or erodes the resident's self-worth. Warning signs include withdrawal, fear of certain people, depression, or changes in hygiene.
- Sexual abuse involves any non-consensual sexual conduct. The behavioral and physical signs of sexual abuse include pelvic injuries, sexually transmitted diseases, bruising, or bleeding of the genitals or inner thigh.
- Financial abuse is the illegal or unethical use of a person's assets or property. Like other forms of abuse, it can have lasting effects on a resident and his or her quality of life. Signs of financial abuse include missing checks or bank cards, insufficient funds in accounts, or other missing assets.
Who is responsible?
Determining who is liable for your loved one's injury while he or she was in the care of a nursing home facility may prove complicated. Different parties, such as the facility owner, the management, or a staff member, may be liable. Sometimes, more than one party is responsible and should be held accountable. If someone has suffered neglect or abuse while in the care of the nursing home, it is necessary to determine exactly who is responsible.
Responsible parties may include:
- The owner of the facility. Facility owners are responsible for their negligent hiring and training practices, failure to provide safe environments, or failure to ensure that their facilities' levels of care meet reasonable industry standards.
- Nurses and caregivers. These individuals have a wide range of responsibilities. They may dispense medications, help with eating, grooming, and turning a patient, and assist with all kinds of other daily needs. The service provided by nurses and other caregivers is indispensable, and their conduct must be professional at all times. If they fail in their duties or do not act responsibly, the nursing home may face liability for any resulting harm.
- Maintenance staff. Employees in charge of maintenance must be constantly alert to potential hazards, such as mopping up spills to prevent falls, keeping common areas free of debris, and making sure that handrails are secure. Residents may have impaired vision or balance. Therefore, hazards can lead to serious injuries.
- Other residents. Nursing homes involve people living in close proximity. This provides a valuable sense of community, but other residents may also present a source of potential harm. It is up to the nursing home staff to monitor residents to keep them from accidentally or intentionally harming each other.
- Visiting family members. Nursing homes generally welcome and encourage visitors. However, some visitors may harm residents, so staff should remain alert to any indications of danger.
What are the most common causes of nursing home negligence?
- Inadequate staffing. Records show that 9 out of 10 nursing homes are understaffed. Many people need help turning in bed to avoid bedsores. Others require assistance with dressing, eating, drinking, and other personal needs. Facilities must have adequate staffing around the clock. When a facility is understaffed, residents may suffer neglect or even abuse.
- Unqualified or untrained staff. Because of the high turnover in staff, a facility may hire workers that are not certified or sufficiently qualified to perform their duties. Also, these facilities may fail to adequately train their personnel.
- Inadequately maintained facilities. Poorly maintained facilities or equipment are a matter of safety. The facility is responsible for maintaining all walking surfaces and ensuring that hand railings are set to a safe level for physically disabled residents. Ramps, elevators, and other assistive devices should be available and in good working condition.
- Lack of accountability. Some facilities are poorly supervised. Investigating complaints may be painfully slow or non-existent. Many nursing home residents have few family members or other visitors keeping an eye on their situations, so negligence goes unnoticed.
Do nursing homes have staffing requirements?
Both federal and state-specific staffing requirements apply to nursing homes. Florida law sets forth a nursing home's minimum staffing requirements. Federal rules mandate individual care plans. Furthermore, facilities must base staffing on the needs of their residents. A sufficient number of qualified and trained staff are absolutely necessary for a facility to properly care for its residents. Understaffing is a serious and constant problem for nursing homes across the country.
What are the common warning signs of nursing home negligence?
- Unexplained bruising or injuries
- Malnutrition or unexplained weight loss
- Untreated illness
- Medication errors
- Unusual levels of confusion
- Wrongful death
What about infectious diseases?
Now more than ever, infectious disease is a serious concern for nursing homes. Nursing homes often struggle to control the spread of infectious diseases. Residents live in close quarters and often share sources of air, food, water, and health care, so contagious illness spreads fast. All kinds of drug-resistant germs, such as C-diff, MRSA, and other forms of staff, multiply in groups of people who are prone to infection and those who frequently take antibiotics. Antibiotic-resistant germs can spread rapidly among nursing home residents.
In one recent year, approximately 40 percent of facilities had insufficient infection control procedures. Staff may fail to follow proper hygiene and cleaning practices, or fail to recognize that an infection is spreading. Facilities that have a history of infection control deficiencies may face an elevated risk of a coronavirus outbreak.
While information about coronavirus is quickly changing as of this writing, medical experts agree that older adults, those with chronic conditions, and those with compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to the infection. These individuals' may endure more severe symptoms and need additional more time to recover than healthy individuals who contract the virus. Furthermore, visitors, caregivers, suppliers, and support staff of nursing homes may unintentionally infect residents.
Many people with coronavirus suffer from respiratory symptoms and need specific treatment, such as respirators, oxygen, and inhalation therapy.
Facilities must do everything possible to prevent and prepare for any number of contageous diseases.
Experts strongly urge facilities to take precautions, including:
- Educate and prepare all staff.
- Train staff in proper hand hygiene and use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Provide detailed instructions for housekeeping staff and other impacted staff about the importance of proper cleaning.
- Provide updated information and share only verified facts.
- Arrange for staff who are ill or have symptoms to stay home.
What are the regulations and standards of care for nursing homes?
The U.S. Congress enacted the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, which requires all nursing homes participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs to comply with certain standards of care. The basic goal of the legislation is for nursing homes to provide the best possible care so that residents can reach or maintain their “highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being.”
A nursing home resident also has the right to choose and refuse services and procedures according to his or her individual standards regarding quality of life. Nursing home patients not only have the right to receive proper medical care in a safe environment, but they are also entitled to privacy, security, and dignity.
Nursing homes must:
- Promote each resident's quality of life.
- Treat each resident with dignity and respect.
- Conduct an initial comprehensive and accurate assessment of each resident's functional capacity.
- Assist residents as needed with eating, drinking, communicating, personal hygiene, and moving about.
- Provide residents with any necessary help with eating, personal grooming, and oral hygiene.
- Ensure that residents receive appropriate treatment and any necessary vision and/or hearing devices.
- Prevent, treat, and monitor pressure sores. This may involve assisting residents with impaired mobility, frequent skin checks, and dealing promptly with incontinence.
- Provide adequate supervision to all residents.
- Ensure proper nutrition and provide assistance with eating and drinking when necessary.
- Make sure residents get enough fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Protect residents from significant medication errors.
- Keep sufficient and appropriately trained staff on hand at all times.
- Keep all residents' clinical records up-to-date, accurate, and easily accessible.
Florida law provides that nursing home residents are entitled to certain fundamental rights, including the right to be free from nursing home abuse and neglect, as well as the right to be treated with courtesy and dignity. These include the right to make their own medical decisions, manage finances, access private communications, and receive unannounced visits from family and others.
What remedies are available?
If your loved one has suffered neglect, abuse, or exploitation in a nursing home, there are several courses of action available. Reporting the neglect or abuse usually triggers an investigation by an adult protective services agency or law enforcement. You may wish to contact the authorities and press criminal charges against the responsible party. You may also wish to consider civil action through an abuse or neglect lawsuit to recover damages for injuries, including pain and suffering. In addition, if the individual has died, the surviving family of the deceased may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
When an act of neglect or abuse harms a resident, the victim has a right to file a personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuit. To successfully proceed with legal action, the plaintiff must establish that the nursing home owed a duty to the resident. The resident's contract with the nursing home will probably provide evidence of duty. The plaintiff must prove that the nursing home violated this duty, that the resident was harmed as a result, and the breach of duty caused the harm.
Establishing negligence requires proof. Therefore, if you suspect that negligence is occurring, you should begin documenting your visits and what you've seen or heard. Take pictures of the room, bathroom, and bedding. Take photos of any physical evidence of harm, such as cuts, sores or bruises, before they fade. Keep lists of all medications that your loved one is prescribed. Write down the names of caregivers. Individuals living in nursing homes may be confused or have impaired memories, so keep detailed notes about the acts or omissions of staff members.
In particular, pay attention to any employees or caregivers who blame the resident, brush off incidents as a misunderstanding, or disregard any injuries. Note dates and times whenever possible. Then call a Bradenton nursing home lawyer to help with filing a complaint against the nursing home.
If you believe that your loved one is in imminent danger, you should take immediate action and call the police.
What are the possible types of compensation?
The court may award damages in a negligence or wrongful death case based on the severity of the injury, the age and vulnerability of the resident, and the nature of the abuse or neglect on the part of the facility, among other factors.
Additionally, victims may be able to recover damages for:
- Medical care
- Alternative living arrangements
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Punitive damages
Why do instances of nursing home neglect and abuse often go unreported?
Often, victims or witnesses may fail to report neglect, abuse, and/or exploitation. Despite efforts to monitor the situation, nursing homes also frequently fail to report incidents of abuse, as required by federal regulators.
A report from the Office of Inspector General reviewed 34,664 claims to Medicare, which indicated injuries possibly linked to abuse. Inspectors found that 89 percent of those cases in just two years were associated with evidence of potential abuse or neglect. Inspectors also found that of the claims associated with incidents of potential abuse or neglect, 2,574 were allegedly perpetrated by a healthcare worker, 3,330 were related to incidents that occurred in a medical facility, and 9,294 were related to incidents not reported to law enforcement.
Many nursing home residents are physically and/or mentally infirm. They may find it difficult to see, hear, think, or communicate, so it is hard to protect themselves from neglect or abuse. Friends and family may also have difficulty recognizing abuse.
When residents or family members raise allegations or complaints, the caregiver or nursing home often becomes defensive and claims that allegations of abuse are just a symptom of declining cognitive abilities. Understaffing, an ongoing problem in nursing homes, often contributes to this tragic situation. Staff members may be unqualified, inadequately trained, or ill-equipped to handle their responsibilities. Under pressure, they may let things slide or become frustrated and abusive.
Residents may balk at reporting, either because they are afraid of the perpetrator or they do not want to get someone in trouble. Similarly, residents and their families or friends hesitate to speak up for fear of retribution and further abuse. When nursing home residents do speak up, caregivers or those in charge of the facility may dismiss their allegations or staff members may accuse the resident of being a nuisance.
However, failing to report may have serious or even fatal consequences for the resident in question, as well as for other residents in the facility who may be at risk. Staff members who know what's going on may be afraid of reprisals from their employers, such as reduced hours, termination, or a bad reference. Such fears on the part of staff contribute to the problem by further reducing the quality of care.
Call Our Bradenton Nursing Home Attorneys Today
When an act of negligence or abuse causes harm to a resident, the victim or a representative may file a civil lawsuit against those responsible, including the facility itself. The conduct of an employee, an ongoing facility practice, or poor staff training and supervision can create a hazardous environment for residents, who are some of the most vulnerable members of our population.
If you think your loved one has suffered injuries or other damages due to nursing home negligence, our experienced, compassionate attorneys will review your case and discuss your legal options. We have offices across both Florida coasts. For more information, call Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA at 833-552-7274, or contact us online.
6703 14th Street West Suite 207
Bradenton, FL 34207
Phone: (941) 613-5747
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