Nursing home abuse and neglect has become widespread and is a growing epidemic. It is a serious problem affecting thousands of nursing home residents who are dependent on nursing homes for care. The fact is, too many nursing home owners act as if profits are more important than resident care. Nurses may be overworked, turnover is sometimes high, and staff may not be able to handle the diverse needs of elders in their care. Nursing home abuse and neglect can be difficult to recognize and is often covered-up by nursing home staff.
Nursing home abuse includes: assault, battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, rape, unreasonable physical constraint, or prolonged or continual deprivation of food or water. In recent months, there have also been reports of overwhelmed or understaffed nursing homes using psychiatric medication to subdue patients. Use of a physical or chemical restraint or psychotropic medication for any purpose not consistent with that authorized by the physician can also be considered nursing home abuse. In many instances, families are not properly informed about the medications their loved ones are being given. This is why it is so important to ask questions and be vigilant. We entrust nursing homes with the safety and well-being of our elderly parents. That’s what makes nursing home abuse and neglect so heinous. If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from nursing home abuse, consider contacting the Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers at the Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. Our firm fights for the rights of families who have suffered as a result of nursing home neglect or abuse.
If your elderly relatives have been abused or neglected by a nursing home, don’t let their suffering be in vain. Stop the nursing home from claiming another elderly victim. Call the lawyers at Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd at (312) 384-1920 to advocate on your behalf.
Warning Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Nursing home abuse and neglect can be difficult to detect. Sometimes diseases like dementia can mask the effects of nursing home neglect. In some instances, families can mistake the regular progression of disease for abuse or neglect. What can you do to protect your loved ones?
The first step is recognizing the warning signs indicating Nursing Home Abuse:
- Open wounds, cuts, bruises, welts, and/or skin discoloration or deterioration
- Loss of weight
- Sudden change in behavior
- Emotionally upset or agitation
- Extremely withdrawn or non-communicative
- Unusual behavior (sucking, biting, or rocking)
- Confusion or dementia
- Poor personal hygiene
- Withholding medication or over-medication
- Incorrect body position
- Lack of assistance with eating and drinking
- Unsanitary and unclean conditions
- Dirt, soiled bed, fecal or urine odor
These and many other warning signs often go unnoticed by family members. The worst thing to do is to ignore your suspicions. Even the smallest change can be an indication of a much more serious problem. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure your loved ones are receiving the care they deserve.
You know your loved one best. Sudden changes in behavior, mood, or health can be indicative of a problem. For instance, certain kinds of medications, when administered to subdue patients, can change their behavior, attention, and can even lead to serious health complications. Speak to your loved one. Ask him or her how she is doing. If your loved one is not able to speak, talk to nursing home staff. Ask about daily care. Visit the nursing home unannounced to see how staff treat residents when families are not around.
Nursing home abuse is a crime. Residents of nursing homes have rights and protections under the law. They have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, and to have their privacy and personal worth protected. They must be informed about their medical care and have the right to make their own decisions regarding their money and services. If your loved one is unable to make decisions on his or her own behalf, family members who have power of attorney to make decisions must be informed about care and medical decisions being made. In 1987, Congress passed the Nursing Home Reform Act which requires each state to issue regulations to protect the rights of nursing home residents. Protecting your loved one’s rights begins with understanding them.
Here are some of the basic rights your loved one has:
- Access and Visitation
Nursing facilities can’t keep a resident from seeing family members, a resident advocate, a physician, service providers, or representatives of the state or federal government.
- Accommodation of Need
Nursing homes must adapt their rules and services to a resident’s individual needs and preferences, when it is reasonable to do so. For example, residents may keep and use their personal possessions and clothing, unless health and safety would be endangered.
Residents have the right to keep their personal and clinical records private.
- Equal Access to Quality Care
A nursing facility must have the same policies and practices for all individuals, regardless of whether they pay their bills privately or receive benefits from Medicare or Medicaid.
- Financial Obligations
Periodically, nursing facilities must tell residents what facility services are covered by Medicare and Medicaid. In addition, the facility must list the services for which residents will be charged and the fees for services.
- Free Choice
Residents have the right to: choose their personal physician, be fully informed about their medical care and treatment, participate in planning their care and treatment, and to refuse treatment.
- Freedom from Abuse and Restraints
Residents have the right to be free from physical or mental abuse. They cannot be kept apart from other residents against their will. They cannot he tied down or given drugs to restrain them if it is not required to treat their medical symptoms. The facility cannot use restraints to punish a resident or to make it easier to care for the resident.
Residents have the right to complain about their care or treatment without being punished. They also have the right to have their grievances resolved quickly.
- Notice of Rights
When a resident is admitted to a nursing facility, staff must inform the resident about his or her rights. The facility must provide a written statement of these rights if a resident asks for it.
- Participation in Resident and Family Groups
Residents have the right to participate in social, religious, and community activities that do not interfere with the rights of other residents.
- Personal Funds
Nursing facilities may not require residents to deposit their personal funds with the facility. However, a resident can ask a nursing home to manage his or her personal funds. In this case, the facility must follow state and federal recordkeeping requirements.
Residents have the right to privacy. This right includes their rooms, medical treatment, communications (including telephone conversations), visits, and meetings with family or resident groups.
- Records and Surveys
A resident has the right to review his or her medical records within 24 hours after making a request. A resident also has the right to examine the results of the facility’s most recent survey and the plan of correction, if there is one.
Residents must receive notice before their room or roommate is changed. Residents can refuse transfer to another room if the purpose of the transfer is to move the resident from a Medicare bed to a Medicaid bed or vise versa.
- Transfer and Discharge
Residents have the right to remain in the nursing home. They cannot he moved unless the transfer or discharge is: (1) necessary to meet the resident’s welfare; (2) appropriate because the resident no longer needs the facility’s services; (3) necessary to prevent endangering the health or safety of other individuals in the facility; (4) based on the resident’s failure to pay, after reasonable notice; or (5) required because the facility has ceased to operate.
The resident and a family member or legal representative must be given at least 30 days’ notice of a proposed transfer/discharge and must be informed of the resident’s right to appeal. The facility must prepare the resident so the transfer/discharge is safe and orderly.
- Transfer for Hospitalization
Before transferring a resident for hospitalization or therapeutic leave, a facility must give the resident written notice of how long it will reserve the resident’s spot open, awaiting the resident’s return. This is called a “bedhold period.”
- Priority Readmission
A nursing home resident who remains in the hospital or on therapeutic leave after the bedhold period expires must be readmitted to the facility immediately when a semi-private bed becomes available.
Understanding your rights and the rights of your loved one is an important step in ensuring that your loved one gets the care he or she needs and deserves. However, families may not always know what to do or what steps they should take if their rights have been violated. You may only have a limited amount of time to seek justice if you believe your loved one has not received the quality care he or she deserves. Contact the Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers at the Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. today to learn more and to protect your rights.
Justice for Families and the Elderly
If you believe one of the above legal rights has been violated, you should consider contacting an attorney who concentrates in nursing home abuse. If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of a work related injury call the lawyers at the Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. at (312) 384-1920 to advocate on your behalf. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds. In many cases a lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations so please call right away to ensure that you do not waive your right to possible compensation.Our firm can fight for your right to receive compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, rehabilitative care, and other damages related to nursing home abuse and neglect. Protect your rights. Contact our firm today.