You simply want the best care given to your elderly loved one. Regular visits will tell you if they’re happy being there and being treated well or if the staff is neglecting them. Because nursing homes exist to give the proper medical attention and care for the elderly, it may come as a shock to discover that nursing home neglect does exist and is quite common.
Whether by accident or intentional, countless acts can put nursing homes in legal trouble. In any case, the fact is that nursing homes can be sued for negligence. If you suspect that you’re not getting the most truthful reports from the home, the burden is on you to provide evidence. How do you prove nursing home negligence? There are warning signs that you can watch out for. Here are a few.
Signs of Nursing Home Negligence
Nursing home negligence is the failure to provide adequate care to their residents, leading to injuries or wrongful deaths that could have otherwise been prevented. Warning signs of not providing proper care can be seen in multiple areas.
Your family member’s disposition
Those suffering from cases such as dementia may be unable to tell you what’s going on. Hence, you should be on the watch for these signs:
- Poor personal hygiene
- Signs of malnutrition
- Signs of dehydration
- Unexplained injuries
- Unusual or unexplained mood and behavioral changes
- Rapid weight loss or weight gain
- Bed injuries
- Ambivalence or displeasure towards caregivers, reluctance to speak in their presence
- Absence of dentures, eyeglasses, or hearing aids
The state of the nursing home
Both the federal and state governments have provisions for nursing homes to meet basic standards in administering care. The state of nursing homes can reveal some things about their service as well. The following are red flags for failure to maintain basic health and sanitary standards:
- Lack of food and water
- Lack of necessary medical equipment
- Lapses in medicine administration
- Lack of utilities, or lack of enough utilities to accommodate all residents
- Unsanitary private and common spaces
- Insect or rodent infestations
- Poor ventilation
- Building structure problems
- Insufficient space
- Poor food quality
Upon administering your family member into the facility, you are promised regular reports on their health and wellbeing. Nursing homes are responsible for informing you of any changes in prescription medication, schedules, and sudden changes in behavior or temperament. Warning signs can also manifest in reports:
- Failure to notify of any accidents or injuries
- Removing specific details
- Lack of transparency
- Failure to update prescriptions
- Failure to monitor and assess changes in patient condition
Suing a Nursing Home for Negligence
In cases of inadequate care, try speaking first to the staff or the supervisor about your observations. You can also consult with the facility’s social worker so they can investigate. In severe cases, however, where you can’t trust the issue to be resolved by a talking-to, here’s how you can take legal action.
Consult a lawyer
Some lawyers specialize in nursing home abuse and can assess what option is best suited to the situation. They may recommend either filing a report or suing the facility outright. In any case, lawyers will represent you in negotiation or litigation and help you pursue financial compensation to cover the expenses.
File a report
There are several ways of reporting negligence. One way is to follow the facility’s grievance procedure so nursing home administrators can directly address the issue. Another way is to have the facility investigated by contacting a long-term care ombudsman. Adult Protective Services can also investigate suspected neglect. In cases of real-time incidences, you can contact the local police to immediately remove the resident from the dangerous situation.
Pursue a lawsuit
Lawsuits can be a lengthy process, and nursing home cases can take anywhere from a year or longer, from the initial call to trial to the judgment or obtaining payment from a settlement. It will involve an initial case evaluation following the consultation and investigation, a notice of claim to the facility or the defendant, filing a lawsuit in court, and any settlement negotiations and mediations that both parties can take instead.
Being on the lookout for any potential sign of neglect of your elderly loved one should always be a priority. Even if you do as much research as you can before opting for that nursing home, you can’t always predict how they’re going to turn out in the future. Some signs may not be enough to prove negligence, but these should not go unreported and ignored. Nursing home negligence can have serious consequences and cause much more pain than necessary.