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Elderly people should be able to rely on their nursing home caregivers to keep them safe from harm, medically cared for, fed, clean, and socially engaged. If a nursing home violates your or your loved one’s nursing home resident rights, you should consider speaking to a nursing home negligence attorney. 

What Can a Nursing Home Negligence Attorney Do for Me? 

If your family was stuck with medical bills following nursing home neglect, an attorney can help you recover the funds necessary to cover those costs. Neglectful nursing homes may also be required to pay punitive fines to their State, as part of a corrective action. Nursing home negligence cases often settle for six figures. Often, these suits settle out of court. 

What is Considered Nursing Home Neglect?

Nursing home neglect can take many forms. Every resident should receive regular checks from staff members and have any of their complaints of illness or discomfort addressed promptly. Common signs of neglect include dehydration, bedsores, poor hygiene, social isolation, malnutrition, and injuries. If you believe an elderly relative has suffered as a result of nursing home neglect, you may have a case for a nursing home negligence attorney. 

Malnutrition and Inadequate Feeding. Staff should ensure that residents’ nutritional needs are met. If the food is too difficult for the resident to chew or does not meet their dietary restrictions, staff should make every effort to provide the resident with a diet that meets their needs.

Medical Neglect. Elderly residents rely on staff members to administer medication and report any changes in their condition to their family members and/or doctor. 

Dehydration. Seniors can become dehydrated more easily, and dehydration can lead to organ failure. Two of the first signs of dehydration are papery skin and a dry mouth. 

Injuries. Nursing homes should also ensure resident safety. Residents should not have to fear an assault by a staff member or another resident, nor should they accept accidental falls as inevitable. Nursing homes should take steps to prevent accidents. 

Social Isolation and Emotional Abuse. Take any mood changes seriously. If your loved one has lost interest in social activities or exhibits an increase in anxiety, further investigation is warranted. 

Suing a Nursing Home for Negligence

To assess if you have a case for a nursing home negligence attorney, it helps to know a nursing home resident’s rights. 

Nursing Home Patient Rights 

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that oversees Medicare, states that nursing home residents have the right to be free from abuse and neglect. 

CMS also outlines the following rights and protections for nursing home residents: 

Medical Care. CMS states that nursing home residents have a right to medical care. If a nursing home resident develops a medical problem like bedsores, it should be addressed immediately. There is no excuse for bedsores progressing to the point of a deadly infection, as happens in many cases of nursing home neglect. 

Freedom from Social Isolation. The agency further stipulates that nursing home staff cannot socially isolate residents. 

Restraints. Nursing homes are not allowed to use physical restraints or chemical restraints. Chemical restraints might include sedatives or an antihistamine like Benadryl that is administered to keep the patient drowsy. 

Secured Property. The nursing home must also protect patient property from theft. If a resident opens an account with a nursing home, the nursing home must not mingle funds with the nursing home’s funds. 

Safety. The grounds of the nursing home should be safe. That means that an elderly person suffering from cognitive decline should not be able to leave the premises. The nursing home should also take adequate steps to prevent accidental falls, including providing sufficient lighting, removing obstacles, ensuring furniture is accessible, and providing helpful devices – like walkers and canes – where appropriate. 

Cases of Neglect in Nursing Homes 

Recent neglect lawsuits reveal wrongful deaths that nursing homes allegedly could have prevented with proper care. 

  • In several recent cases, family members have sued nursing homes after their elderly relative left a care facility and died from hypothermia. Nursing homes should make sure their facilities do not allow patients suffering from cognitive decline to wander away. 
  • Families have sued following allegations that their loved one was attacked by a roommate. Unfortunately, aggression is a common symptom of dementia. If a roommate has a known history of aggression, they should not be allowed to interact with other residents without direct supervision. 
  • A New York nursing home is under investigation by the state health department after a resident fell from a window that reportedly should not have been able to open more than six inches. Accidental falls are a significant concern in nursing homes and potential hazards should be addressed.
  • One lawsuit alleges that an elderly woman died from bedsore complications after nursing home staff failed to reposition her every two hours, a necessary intervention to keep her skin condition from worsening. A similar lawsuit in Florida recently resulted in a $12.5 million award
  • A $25 million suit alleges that a nursing home failed to feed a disabled resident who required pureed food. 
  • One nursing home resident lawsuit alleges that a resident died of dehydration at a veteran nursing home where dehydration is reportedly a persistent problem. 

How Do I Report Nursing Home Negligence? 

If the nursing home does not meet an elderly person’s needs, CMS advises that concerned parties should make a report to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, State Survey Agency, a family member, or the nursing home itself. The nursing home is required to report suspected violations to the authorities within five working days.