Elderly family members are vulnerable when they can longer care for themselves. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities–when successful– should provide support, stability, and medical care for your loved ones. However, elderly individuals often face neglect, or in some instances, abuse in their nursing homes. Unfortunately, nursing home neglect and abuse is more common than one might think.
COVID-19 caused more issues for nursing homes and revealed chronic issues in understaffing and facility accountability. Since the pandemic, staffing shortages have worsened. A report from Human Right Watch revealed that many residents in nursing homes show concerning symptoms such as dehydration, weight loss and mental and physical decline. The report also highlighted an uptick in nursing home deaths. While many were due to the virus, tens of thousands of nursing home deaths have been due to extreme neglect or other unexplained causes. Advocates are calling on government leaders to hold these institutions accountable.
The concern is evident in Pennsylvania too. In 2020, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro took a strong stance on nursing home neglect, by opening several criminal investigations into multiple Pennsylvania Nursing Homes. In February 2021, a nursing home administrator was indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, healthcare fraud, and obstruction of a federal audit. The administrator had directed staff members to falsify staffing records to meet state and federal guidelines. In reality, the nursing home was understaffed and failed to meet the standards of care expected of facilities accepting Medicare and Medicaid.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Negligence
Elders experiencing nursing home abuse in their care facilities may exhibit both physical and emotional symptoms. Individuals may be depressed and lethargic or fearful of their nursing staff. Physical symptoms include poor hygiene, bed sores, and injuries from repeated accidents. If you notice suspicious injuries or a drastic change in a resident’s mental health, search for new facilities immediately.
Suspected Elder Abuse and Taking Action
The best way to prevent nursing home neglect is by being proactive. If you are placing a loved one in a nursing home, be sure to take a tour of the facility. Visiting the nursing home offers an opportunity to see staff and other residents in their day-to-day routine. A visit will help you and your loved one assess if they will be comfortable there.
Unfortunately, being proactive doesn’t always prevent negligence. If you suspect that someone you know is subject to nursing home neglect, you should relocate them to a new facility as soon as possible. After relocating your loved one, request medical and treatment records from their previous facility. Official medical records will provide useful information if you choose to pursue legal action.
Anyone with information on nursing home negligence or abuse is encouraged to submit a formal report to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. You can file a complaint through an online form, via mail or email.
Should I Speak to an Attorney If my Loved One was Abused or Neglected in Their Home?
Yes. If you suspect your loved one is experiencing neglect or abuse in their facility, contact an attorney right away. An experienced attorney can help assess whether your family member was a victim of abuse and take immediate action. Nursing home negligence can lead to both civil and criminal charges. A civil lawsuit can help families and victims seek monetary recovery for the damages they experienced from an individual or institution. Compensation can cover emotional and physical suffering and more. Holding those responsible for nursing home neglect can prevent others from experiencing the same abuse.
Speak with Attorney Crichton, A Philadelphia Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer Today!
Attorney Crichton is an experienced Philadelphia attorney with a strong understanding of nursing home neglect cases. Active in both civil and criminal court, Attorney Crichton has unparalleled knowledge of these legal disputes and will build a formidable case. In these cases, you need an aggressive attorney who will take perpetrators of nursing home abuse and neglect head-on.
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