Riverside Attorneys Fighting Nursing Home Abuse & Malpractice
Before you placed a loved one in a nursing home, you likely put a lot of thought and research into finding the very best facility (with well-trained and experienced staff) in order to ensure the emotional and physical well-being of your loved one was cared for at the highest level. Unfortunately, sometimes no level of thought and research can prevent later abuse of a loved one. Nursing home abuse is a serious problem in the state of California, as well as across the nation. Nursing home abuse has reached such a level that Congress issued a report a few years back which revealed that one out of every three nursing homes in the United States had received a violation of some sort by local authorities.
While we all want to believe that a nursing home is a place where the elderly are cared for with patience, kindness, and compassion, in fact, that is simply not always the case. According to Nursing Home Law Center, more than 30% of all nursing homes have residents who suffer some form of abuse, whether by staff or other residents. “Red flags” for nursing home negligence were listed on more than 5,000 death certificates of nursing home patients in 1999. These red flags included starvation, dehydration, and bedsores as the cause of death. So many nursing homes ended up in trouble over those red flags, the homes became much more careful regarding how the cause of death was listed—although perhaps not careful enough. Further statistics regarding nursing home abuse includes:
- In 2001, one of every four nursing homes received a citation for causing serious injury or death to a patient.
- In 2005, virtually every nursing home in the nation was cited by health inspectors for at least one deficiency.
- Despite the fact that nursing home abuse occurs with a depressing level of frequency, only about 20 percent of all nursing home abuse cases are ever reported. Many of those who reside in nursing homes simply do not have the self-confidence or the mental presence to report the abuse, and caretakers or family members may not notice the abuse until it has escalated.
- While close family members of nursing home residents may look out for their loved one—to the extent possible—at least half of all nursing home residents do not have close relatives.
- Although the recommended nurse’s aide to patient ratio is 1:3 during mealtimes and 1:6 during non-meal times, in reality, it is not unusual for one nurse’s aide to care for up to 30 patients.
- In 2007 a minimum of twenty complaints per nursing home were received, largely relating to the quality of care, condition of facilities and staff issues.
When you put your loved one in the care of another, you expect that their wellbeing will be taken care of ethically and thoughtfully. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is all too common. If you or your loved one find yourself in this tragic situation, please contact our experienced attorneys at Greenberg & Greenberg, we are here to fight for you.
Factors Involved in Nursing Home Abuse, Malpractice & Death
The causes of abuse, death or malpractice in a nursing home come from a variety of sources, including willful abuse by nursing home staff. In other instances, there may have been negligence on the part of the nursing home staff. By failing to do their job correctly, an elderly person’s injuries or death may be directly tied to nursing home staff. As an example, perhaps the staff failed to ensure an elderly person was drinking sufficient water or eating a sufficient amount of nutritional foods; that elderly person could then experience serious dehydration or malnutrition. Nursing home staff could fail to notify medical personnel following a serious fall of an elderly resident, meaning the injured person could be in pain for weeks or months. That person could even die later from internal injuries which were not properly looked after. Other factors relating to nursing home abuse or wrongful death include:
- Assault and abuse occur all too frequently in nursing homes, often by nursing home staff. If another resident assaulted the victim, the nursing home could still be held liable for improper monitoring of the residents.
- Wandering is the cause of many accidents and injuries in nursing homes; the elderly may wander out of the home, putting themselves at risk for slip and falls or even incidences of assault. The nursing home is responsible for ensuring all residents are safe and secure.
- Bedsores often develop on the elderly person’s body when they are left lying in the same position for long periods of time. When these open sores develop, they are more susceptible to infection and could eventually cause sepsis or septic shock.
- Excessive use of restraints on patients with weakened bones and suppressed immune systems can place those patients at a much higher risk for broken bones, suffocation and even death.
- Unsanitary conditions, including dirty water, bacteria, mold, dirty heating and air ducts or contaminated food could all potentially lead to the illness, injury or death of an elderly person.
- Medication mistakes are fairly common in nursing homes; overdosing an elderly person or administering the wrong medication can lead to injury or death.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
It is important to know how to recognize signs of abuse among elderly patients in nursing homes in order to prevent injury and wrongful deaths. Elder abuse can be physical, mental, sexual, emotional or financial. Not only can an unscrupulous person physically hurt an elderly person, but they can also threaten the elderly person with further harm if the person tells anyone about the abuse. Some of the more common signs of abuse, neglect, malpractice and wrongful death include the following:
- Visible bruises, cuts or welts;
- Unexplained injuries;
- Obvious overmedication;
- Unsanitary conditions;
- Septic shock;
- Uncontrolled diabetes;
- Medication errors or over-medication;
- Clogged breathing tubes;
- Bedsores or skin ulcers which do not seem to heal;
- Rapid weight loss or weight gain;
- Chronic or unexplained infections;
- Unexplained falls;
- Frequent urinary tract infections;
- Unsupervised wandering;
- Agitation or emotional withdrawal by the elderly person
- Broken bones;
- The inability of caregivers to explain a condition or accident, or
- Sudden death.
Physical abuse can include pinching, slapping, hitting, kicking, shoving, twisting an arm, the inappropriate use of drugs or restraints, forced feeding or withholding food, failure to dispense prescribed medications or failure to perform needed therapies. Verbal abuse can include bullying, name-calling, threatening, yelling and screaming. Financial abuse of the elderly also occurs quite frequently, and, shockingly, sexual abuse in the form of inappropriate touching, forcing the elderly person to undress for no reason, and even rape also occur.
Looking back, many people may see there were signs of neglect and abuse which they failed to recognize. This realization can be extremely painful. There is no way the pain of losing a loved one can ever be undone, however, loved ones can feel better knowing justice has been served. Having a legal advocate in your corner who will fight hard for the compensation you are entitled to is crucial. Your California nursing home abuse attorney has a thorough understanding of state laws and can determine whether the injuries or death of your loved one was due to neglect and/or abuse and if it rises to the level of a wrongful death.
What is Wrongful Death and Who May Sue for Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a term generally used in a legal setting. When elder care misconduct or negligence has resulted in the death of an elderly patient in a nursing home, a wrongful death may have occurred. The regulations which govern wrongful nursing home deaths vary from state to state, including who is allowed to sue for the wrongful death. Immediate family members are allowed to sue in the state of California. Immediate family is considered to be a spouse, children of the deceased and domestic partners. If none of these exist, then the parents of an unmarried child or the siblings of the person can sue. In some instances, those who were formerly financially dependent on the deceased could also potentially bring a wrongful death claim.
How Greenberg & Greenberg Nursing Home Abuse Attorneys Can Help
By contacting Greenberg & Greenberg you may be able to help your family recover financial compensation as well as assist others whose loved one could be in the same situation. If you have learned that your loved one has suffered from any form of physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect—whether due to under-staffing or from carelessness or negligence on the part of caregivers—contact the experienced attorneys at Greenberg & Greenberg for help in filing a claim for damages. Lead personal injury attorney, Elan Zektser has extensive experience in elder abuse and is ready to take action, defending your loved one’s rights and safety.
While you could file a claim against a negligent nursing home on your own, it is unlikely you would get very far without experienced legal help. The companies and corporations who own and manage nursing homes almost always have on-call experienced legal counsel and insurance representatives whose sole job is to protect the financial interests of the nursing home owners. To truly obtain justice for your loved one, you need the experience and knowledge of the Greenberg & Greenberg law firm.