Although there are now laws that regulate long-term care facilities, abuse and neglect is still a major problem. A 2008 federal survey found that 90% of the nursing homes in the United States have been cited for safety and health violations.
Now, that’s a scary statistic.
In addition, a large number of the complaints against nursing homes involve abuse and neglect of the residents, including infected bedsores, malnutrition, and even giving patients the wrong medications.
Unfortunately, there simply isn’t enough federal oversight of nursing facilities in the United States and as a result, the abuse and neglect often goes unchecked. What’s more, even if a facility does receive a citation, they are rarely forced to close. To remedy the problem, the family must move the patient and start litigation proceedings against the facility.
Couple this with the lack of adequate nursing personnel and it’s easy to see why the problem is so widespread.
To keep your loved ones safe, you’ll have to do a little “policing” of the facility yourself. Before you place your loved one in a nursing home, do your research. Find out how many (if any) citations they have and more importantly, what the citations were for. Ask how the incidents were handled to ensure that the neglect or abuse didn’t happen again.
Does the facility do background checks on its employees? Do they regularly rotate staff so that no one staff member is solely responsible for a patient?
The more proactive a nursing home is, the better off your loved one will be.
Once you do decide on a particular facility, you’ll want to make regular, unscheduled visits. The fewer visits a resident has, the more likely they are to be abused or neglected.
You should also pay close attention to your loved one’s state of mind, overall appearance and general health. If they are too medicated, appear to be suffering from malnutrition or have unexplained brusing, you should talk with their doctor and the facility administrator immediately.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that neglect or abuse won’t still occur but you can drastically minimize the possibility by staying “visible” to the staff on a regular basis. And if abuse does occur, a qualified elder law attorney can help you decide how best to proceed.
Attorney at Law
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