The elderly, mentally ill and the disabled are some of the most vulnerable victims of crime and neglect in society today. In the United States today there are over 36 million citizens over the age of sixty-five. As baby boomers come of age, the number of senior citizens will rise. Advances in medical care also indicate that senior citizens are living longer. However, many will live in some type of long-term care facility.
Nursing home abuse claims rose at an alarming rate in terms of frequency and severity. With a high number of Medicaid patients and a low reimbursement rate, many facilities cut back in staffing and levels of care. This can be attributed to the increase in claims of nursing home abuse.
Elderly or other dependent adults who have been injured as a result of abuse or neglect at the hands of nursing home attendants, in-home caregivers, medical providers or other persons may have a claim against the facility owner. Claims of nursing home abuse do survive the death of the resident. In such cases, families may file a claim on their behalf.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
If you have a loved one in a long-term care facility, the following are signs of possible nursing abuse or neglect:
- pressure sores (decubitus ulcers)
- broken bones
- sudden weight loss (malnutrition)
- extreme thirst (dehydration)
- unexplained bruises or welts
- poor personal hygiene
Communication with the nursing home and its care providers will provide insight into the care and treatment of your loved one. If you are not satisfied with their response or level of attention, continue to investigate on behalf of your loved one. If you feel that nursing neglect or abuse may be the cause of injuries, you may want to speak to an attorney.
Types of Long Care Facilities
The type of long term facilities in which your loved one resides may determine the type of care, the standard of care and the regulatory requirements of the facility. There are three types of long-term care provided in Louisiana: personal care homes; intermediate care homes and skilled nursing facilities.
Personal care homes may be any dwelling that provides housing, food and one or more personal services to two or more adults living in the home, unrelated to the owner. Personal care residents generally do not require nursing services or medical supervision. Intermediate care homes admit residents on the basis of medical referrals. Nurses supervise the care in intermediate homes. However, residents are mobile outside of their beds, can feed themselves and have no catheters. A skilled nursing facility admits residents on the basis of medical referrals for continuous medical supervision and skilled nursing or rehabilitative care. State regulatory and statutory provisions govern nursing homes. Those facilities receiving Medicaid or Medicare federal funding must be federally certified. Federal government agencies will also provide oversight.
Federal Statues and Regulations
In 1987, the federal government enacted the Nursing Home Reform Act which legislated certain rights for residents of long-term care facilities. Essentially, patients have the right of respect in their care and treatment; to be aware of the services and fees for services provided by the facility; to manage their own money or to designate a person to manage their money for them; privacy in care and confidentiality in the medical records; and the right to be informed of their care, treatment, medications and to select their own physician. Federal Medicaid and Medicare Acts, 42 U.S.C. § 1395, also provide for standards of care, but do not provide for private causes of action.
The Health Care Financing Administration oversees compliance with these regulations. All homes receiving Medicaid or Medicare reimbursements must be in compliance with these regulations. Homes must be regularly inspected and certified in order to receive federal funding.
If you or a loved one has been injured or neglected in a nursing home, contact the Law Offices of L. Clayton Burgess today.