As America’s population ages, more and more people are making the difficult decision to place their elderly or infirm loved ones into the care of nursing homes. Though there are many high quality facilities that take excellent care and provide all of the treatment and compassion that they promise that they will, many others fall short. The local and national news are filled with horror stories of elderly residents subjected to both abuse and neglect, with many sustaining life-threatening injuries.
There are a number of reasons that this trend is on the rise, most notably an industry-wide shortage of skilled care professionals. Nursing home owners and managers often place responsibility for caring for their residents with those who do not have the necessary qualifications, while in other situations the facilities are so grossly understaffed that the employees cannot get to all of their responsibilities.
Whatever the reasons behind the nursing home neglect, the situation is not only upsetting but is also illegal. There are a number of laws established both nationally and on a state level that are specifically designed to protect those who rely on nursing home and assisted living facilities to protect them and provide them with the care that they need. In addition to laws specifically written for nursing homes, there are other rights to which all patients are entitled.
The Nursing Home Reform Act, which was enacted by the United States Congress in 1987, requires that all nursing home facilities that are Medicare and Medicaid providers my adhere to specific quality of care rules. The overriding message of the law is that these facilities “must provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a written care of plan.” Compliance with these laws is required in order for these facilities to continue to receive reimbursements.
Additionally, laws regarding the levels of required care and requirements regarding staffing have been written by each state. Unfortunately, violations of these laws continue and many residents end up suffering or having their health and safety jeopardized as a result. According to ProPublica’s Nursing Home Inspect report, which allows visitors to review citations and complaints that have been lodged against nursing homes, in 2012 the most-commonly violated nursing home regulations include:
• Violations regarding Accident Hazards
• Violations regarding the establishment of Infection Control Programs
• Not providing the necessary care for highest practicable well-being
• Not storing/preparing/distributing food under sanitary conditions
• Failure to develop comprehensive care plans
• Failure to meet professional standards for services provided
• Failure to maintain clinical records that meet professional standards
• Employing persons guilty of abuse
• Maintaining a drug regimen free of unnecessary drugs
• Failure to provide an environment that provides dignity for residents
If you have placed a loved one into the care of a nursing home or assisted living facility and fear that they may be subject to nursing home neglect or abuse, an experienced nursing home abuse attorney can provide you with the advice and counsel that you need.
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