Abuse and Neglect Continuously Threaten the Well-being of Nursing Home Residents

The American Association for Justice says that about 90% of nursing home facilities do not have enough qualified nurses and trained personnel capable of providing residents with the quality care they need.

Nursing home facilities, also called Skilled Nursing Facilities, Nursing Centers, Convalescent Care or Long Term Care Facilities, are designed for those who require round the clock custodial and skilled nursing care; these include adults, usually those at least 65 years old, those physically or mentally incapacitated, and people who are ill and in need of rehabilitative therapy, such as those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Since these individuals are no longer capable of performing even the basic activities in daily living, trained facility staff members are tasked to provide them custodial care, which includes eating, bathing, toileting and getting dressed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of February of 2015, about 1.4 million residents are housed in 15,700 registered nursing homes facilities in different parts of the U.S. Despite the need to house their elder loved one in a nursing home and despite the thousands of nursing facilities in each state, though, many families are unsure about which facility they should choose due to the widespread cases of neglect and abuse that cause residents to suffer physical injuries, emotional trauma, humiliation, self-pity, hatred, despair, and so forth.

In a study conducted by a research team from the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, it is shown that from January 1999 to January 2001, about 9,000 instances of abuse in 5,283 nursing home facilities were committed. These abuses or lack of care included inadequate medical care, inadequate sanitation and hygiene, and acts that resulted to dehydration, untreated bedsores, preventable accidents, and malnutrition, among others. Besides physical abuse, though, residents were also subjected to other forms of unjust treatment, including financial abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse and, the most degrading of all, sexual abuse.

The Nursing Home Reform Act that was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1987 mandates the provision of services and activities that are gird towards the attainment or maintenance of the highest possible physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of the residents in accordance with a written plan of care. Despite this law, however, nursing home abuses and acts of neglect continue to be committed, mostly by facility employees themselves.

Abusive nursing home aides and/or nurses can be charged with a federal offense punishable with a long jail term; they and/or the nursing home facility that employed them can also be ordered by the court to pay compensation to the victim or the victim’s family due to the pain and other damages suffered by the victim. Any sign or even hint of abuse, a family of a nursing home patient should never hesitate consulting with a skilled attorney, who can help investigate and verify the matter.

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