As unacceptable as it may be, most, if not all of us, have experienced or heard of mistreatment in nursing home facilities. This raises the question, why is this so common?
Under the New Mexico Administrative Code all residents of permanent care facilities (nursing homes) are to “be treated with courtesy, respect, and full recognition of one’s dignity and individuality by all employees of the facility and by all licensed, certified, and registered providers under contract with the facility.” Unfortunately, sometimes nursing home providers simply forget this duty, and our loved-ones end up paying for it. It’s bad enough that you or your loved one required permanent or intensive care, did they really deserve abuse too?
What is Nursing Home Abuse?
New Mexico law defines nursing home abuse as
…any act or failure to act performed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly that causes or is likely to cause harm to a resident of a nursing home facility."
Such acts include (but are not limited) to:
- Unwanted or harmful physical contact;
- Inappropriate use of physical restraint, isolation, or medication;
- Inappropriate use of a physical or chemical restraint, medication or isolation as punishment or in conflict with a doctor’s order;
- Medically inappropriate conduct likely to cause physical harm;
- Medically inappropriate conduct likely to cause great psychological harm;
- Threatening or menacing conduct directed toward a resident that results in fear or emotional or mental distress to a resident;
If you or a family member has been subject to the types of neglect listed above, or some other substantially similar form of treatment, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for any resulting injuries or wrongful death.
What kind of Damages can be recovered?
As with any action falling under personal injury law we seek compensation for you or your loved-one’s physical pain, mental suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life and medical expenses, whether to remedy an existing problem or recover for costs of nursing home abuse. Though these remedies will help, we know that money will never fully compensate you or your loved one for what happened. It is important for you to know that nursing home abuse is grounds for some fairly hefty judicial sanctions against nursing home providers and hospitals. These additional sanctions can take the form of “punitive” damages- those meant to punish or deter a facility from acting or allowing its employees to act in a malicious or extremely reckless manner.
For example, if it is found that the nursing facility repeatedly failed to comply with licensing regulations; is aware of or should be aware of an employee’s intoxication on the job; failed to provide the required care and services mandated by the state; or abused, neglected or exploited any of its patients, you may be able to seek additional damages to ensure that other patients are not subjected to the same treatment in the future.
Why hire a lawyer?
Nursing homes and hospitals are amongst some of the most highly regulated entities in the state. Notwithstanding this fact patient abuse occurs at alarming rates, and victims are often unable to communicate the conditions of their torture to their loved-ones. You wanted nothing but the best for your loved-one when you sought care for them, and you shouldn’t be expected to stand by as they spend the last fragile years of their lives in pain or discomfort.
People hire many different kinds of lawyers for many different reasons. If you or a loved one suffered injuries or death because of nursing home neglect, please, stand up for human dignity, and fight the hard fight by holding the facility accountable. We strongly encourage you to call us for a free preliminary discussion of your rights and possible representation in your case. We can help you understand the law, and your rights under it, including who can sue on behalf of a loved-one and when punitive damages might be appropriate.
Nursing Home Falls
Nursing home falls are one of the top complaints when it comes to nursing home abuse. It is known that on average, one out of three adults 65 years of age and older, falls each year. For those that fall, 20-30% suffer moderate to severe injuries which result in an increased possibility of an earlier death, and the increase in difficulty for them to get around and take care of themselves on a daily basis.
Not only are nursing home slips-and-falls painful, they can emotionally harm the elderly by slowing them down at a much faster rate, making them even more dependent on a caregiver. The direct cost for an elder fall has been well over $19 billion dollars a year for our US healthcare system. With the number of elderly increasing yearly, this cost is also likely to increase.
Nursing Home Injuries
As American’s are living longer and the growing population of elder grows, our senior citizens are very often the victims of numerous forms of abuse, such as; physical assault, financial exploitation and serious neglect which leads to bed sores and broken bones. The US census bureau estimates that there will be over sixty-two million persons over sixty-five years of age in the US by the year 2025. (The Elder Law Journal, Feb. 2005, pg.2)
Although often prevented and treatable if found early, bedsores can be very difficult to prevent in frail elderly patients, wheelchair users (especially where spinal injury is involved) and terminally ill patients. Bedsores are often fatal – even under the auspices of nursing home care – and are one of the leading iatrogenic causes of death reported in developed countries, second only to adverse drug reactions. The primary cure and treatment is to remove the pressure by turning the patient regularly.
Nursing Home Negligence
The most common signs of nursing home negligence are:
- bed sores (pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers)
- unsanitary environment
- poor grooming and hygiene.
Other signs of negligence may be:
- frozen joints
- errors in medication
- persisting infections
- recurring illnesses
- frequent falls.
If you see any signs of negligence by the Nursing Home, please do not hesitate to follow-up.
If you need help, please call an experienced nursing home negligence attorney.
The Davis Kelin Law Firm has years of experience in these matters and want to help you put an end to the neglect of the elderly. Victims of such neglect may be too embarrassed and/or reluctant to speak out due to threats or intimidation by their caregivers. Often they are not physically or mentally capable of letting you know what is happening. If that is the case, it is up to us to keep an even closer eye on our loved ones to assure their safety.
If you do in fact suspect nursing home negligence, you must first and foremost get medical help for the victim, if needed.