ABOUT NURSING HOME OR EXTENDED CARE FACILITY NEGLIGANCE
Nursing homes are a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week care resource providing efficient and expert care that many families cannot. These facilities are a blessing, ensuring comfort and safety for our vulnerable and elderly. However, nursing home negligence has become an uncomfortable fact of life. Problems like overcrowding, understaffing, employee stress and internal fraud have exacerbated the situation.
As the elderly population in the United States expands, it is incumbent upon families to demand better and hold offending facilities accountable. The attorneys of Montross Miller have extensive experience in personal injury cases, medical malpractice, and nursing home negligence cases. We have built relationships with subject matter experts and expanded our in-house expertise to provide you with the best representation possible in these unfortunate and often complicated cases.
If you suspect nursing home and extended care facility negligence, don’t wait to take action. Contact Montross Miller for a free case evaluation. The sooner you know what to look for, what steps to take if you suspect abuse and negligence, and how to work with your attorney to ensure the safety of your loved one and build your case, the more comfortable you’ll feel that you are doing right by your family member.
What Can I Do Today?
Arm yourself with knowledge. If you’re not ready yet to contact an attorney, but need some guidance, consider the following:
Spotting Elder Abuse
There are many types of elder abuse, including physical, emotional, sexual, abandonment, financial, and neglect. Financial abuse can include various forms of exploitation and financial or insurance fraud. Per the NIH’s National Institute on Aging, watch your loved one for these signs if you suspect elder abuse in a nursing home or extended care facility:
- They have unexplained bruises, burns, or scars.
- They have bed sores or other preventable conditions.
- They appear dirty, underfed, dehydrated, over-or under-medicated, or not receiving care for medical problems.
- They seem depressed, confused, or withdrawn.
- They are isolated from friends and family.
- You have noticed recent changes in banking or spending patterns.
Negligence in nursing homes or extended care facilities can also take the form of prescription drug errors, including:
- Prescribing the wrong drug or wrong dosage/frequency.
- Prescribing a drug that interacts poorly with other prescribed medications.
- Not providing medication guidance or monitoring its effects.
- Prescribing medication that doesn’t account for the resident’s physical condition.
In a 2021 World Health Organization study, two out of three nursing home or long-term care facility employees reported having committed abuse in the past year. The study also found emerging evidence abuse rose during the pandemic. If you think you’ve detected abuse, there are several actions you should take, including contacting law enforcement.
Senior care advocates recommend taking these steps if you suspect elder abuse at a nursing home or long-term care facility:
- Talk with other families. They might have seen similar injuries or witnessed rough behavior.
- Report your concerns. File a formal report with a facility administrator or owner.
- Install a camera in their room. Cameras may not be allowed in your facility.
- Visit regularly. Visit regularly and, as much as possible, engage with staff so they know you and who you are visiting.
- Move to another senior care community. If you fear for your elderly loved one’s immediate safety, move to safer circumstances.
- Document everything and report it to the proper authorities. In Indiana, you should consider contacting a local aging services agency, Adult Protective Services (APS), or the police.
Adult Protective Services and Law Enforcement
Indiana is a mandatory report state. If you suspect your loved one has suffered from neglect, battery, or exploitation, you must report it to APS or law enforcement. An endangered adult in Indiana is an individual who is:
- At least 18 years old
- Harmed or threatened with harm as a result of any of the following: Battery, Neglect, Exploitation of the individual’s personal services or property.
- Incapacitated by any of the following: Mental illness, Developmental/Intellectual disability, Dementia, Habitual drunkenness, Excessive drug use, Other physical or mental incapacity preventing the person from managing or directing the management of his or her property or providing or directing the provision of self-care.
Can I Sue for Nursing Home or Extended Care Facility Negligence?
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are in a relationship with their patient residents. As part of that nursing home/patient relationship, they must provide a standard of care by law. If they fail to deliver that standard of care and their resident is harmed physically, emotionally, or even financially, there may be a legal case for a negligence case. A simple explanation for determining if you have a potential claim is to consult the “four Ds” of medical negligence:
- Duty of care. Did the medical provider owe a duty commitment to the patient? In other words, was there a relationship?
- Dereliction of duty. Did the medical provider violate the standard of care? Did they commit malpractice?
- Direct causation. If so, did that negligence cause (or contribute to) damages?
- Damages. Can you prove those damages (medical bills, lost wages, funeral & burial costs, e.g.) incurred by the negligence?
Favorable nursing home lawsuit settlements result from careful fact-finding, meticulous record-keeping, and teamwork. You can assist your attorney by maintaining records of any correspondence with the facility. If you can visit your loved one regularly, keep a journal with the times and dates of all care. If you monitor a suspected case of ongoing abuse, you are the first line of defense for your loved one. Lawsuits can take many months or even several years. An experienced attorney can help you seek justice. Contact an attorney knowledgeable in Indiana malpractice laws and experienced in successfully defending medical negligence, nursing home negligence, and malpractice cases. It’s helpful to find a legal team that includes a physician on staff because these cases are often complex, contentious, and rely heavily on expert testimony.
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