Nursing Home Negligence in NYC
The reality for many of us is that aging parents or other relatives with mobility issues, complex medication regimens, serious balance issues, incontinence, and/or dementia can no longer live alone and, in most cases, there is no family member available to care for them at home. Unfortunately, private home healthcare and companionship are extremely expensive and often unreliable. Also, if you have prepared a workable estate plan that includes a trust, your loved one may be eligible for Medicaid which will pay for around-the-clock nursing home care. For these reasons, nursing home care is often the most practical option.
Still, placing someone close to you in a nursing home requires careful evaluation and constant vigilance since nursing home negligence is all too prevalent. If you feel that your relative is a victim of nursing home negligence or elder abuse in the greater New York City area, you should contact the top flight elder abuse attorneys at Katter Law. We have the legal knowledge, strategic skills, and extensive experience to help you fight for the rights of your loved one. You can trust us to treat you and your family the way we would want to be treated; with respect and concern. Contact Katter Law today.
Reasons For Negligence
While many nursing homes provide excellent care, we are all aware that many do not even approach the level of care their brochures describe. There are many reasons that elderly residents of nursing homes, particularly those who are out of touch and don’t clearly state their needs, are neglected and even abused. These include:
- The facility is focused on its profit margin instead of its patients
- A great many nursing homes are understaffed
- Many employees at nursing homes aren’t properly trained for their difficult job
- Nursing aides, who provide most of the hands-on care, are grossly underpaid
Although there are thousands of compassionate caretakers in nursing homes who treat their patients with kindness, there are too many who feel overworked, underappreciated, frustrated and degraded by the work they do. Unfortunately, these disgruntled employees direct their anger at those who can’t fight back — their patients. Some too many supervisors slack off, falling short in terms of setting protocols and making sure they are followed. This terrible combination leads to patients who become dehydrated, lack the warmth of human contact, sit for hours in unchanged adult diapers, and develop bedsores (pressure ulcers) from being kept in one position for much too long a time. To say there are reasons for nursing home negligence in no way excuses it. Your loved one is entitled to have needs met in a timely fashion and to be treated with consideration, gentleness, and respect.
Types of Elder Abuse
Older people, especially those who are confined to nursing homes, are vulnerable to abuse. Aging people whose cognitive abilities are waning and who are extremely dependent on those around them, not only for nutrition and medical care but for information, can be easily manipulated and deceived. There are three basic types of elder abuse: physical, emotional, and financial. Tragically, none of the three is a rarity.
Physical Elder Abuse
Physical abuse in nursing homes is more common than we would like to imagine. It doesn’t take much force to bruise or tear the skin of an old person whose skin is dry and fragile due to the aging process. A shove, a pull, a slap or a pinch can result in more harm and more pain than it would on a younger person. It is also very easy to cause an elderly person to fall. Signs of physical abuse are detectable and as an advocate, you have to be careful not to allow them to be explained away by staff members. If you see numerous bruises or cuts on your loved one or hear that he has fallen more than once, you should be alert and bring your concerns to your elder abuse attorney. At Katter Law Firm we will investigate the situation thoroughly, gather any evidence or witness statements and, if necessary, file a lawsuit on behalf of your loved one. Other signs of abuse include rashes and poor grooming — dirty hair, dirty fingernails, body odor, bad breath. If your relative is not being kept clean, she is likely being neglected to the point of abuse. Physical abuse can also include undermedicated for pain or overmedication to keep a patient subdued or asleep so they will be easier to manage.
Bedsores Can Be a Sign of Physical Abuse
It should be noted that physical negligence can cross the line into physical abuse. If your relative is not helped to change position and develops bedsores, he is suffering abuse because the bedsores, especially if contaminated with urine or feces, can become seriously infected, causing pain, sepsis or gangrene. Not only can such complications result in misery and potential amputation; they can be a cause of death.
There are simple ways to prevent bedsores and these methods are routinely used in well-maintained nursing facilities. Some very basic preventive measures have been proven to protect residents from this type of injury, including:
- Turning patients at regular intervals
- Keeping patients clean and dry
- Making sure patients are properly nourished and well-hydrated
- Checking patients’ bodies when they are being washed to make sure there is no evidence of irritation or lesions on the skin
- These measures to prevent bedsores are so simple, you would think bedsores would have become a thing of the past, especially with all the special pillows, mattresses, and pressure-distributing devices now available. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Falls Can Also Be a Sign of Physical Abuse
It doesn’t take much for an older person to fall, nor to be severely injured by a seemingly inconsequential fall. Poor eyesight, muscular weakness, poor balance and medications that may cause dizziness — can all be the cause of frequent falls. Nonetheless, when you entrust a nursing home with the care of your loved one, they are required to take the necessary steps to prevent falls, such as:
- Making sure flooring is not slippery or damaged
- Making certain that carpeting is not frayed
- Removing any obstacles off surfaces patients travel
- Making sure that patients who need canes, walkers, or wheelchairs have these devices
- The most important step the nursing home can take to prevent patient falls is to observe patients and put protective measures in place, such as buzzers that sound if patients susceptible to falls get up from their beds, chairs, or wheelchairs and require assistance.
Emotional Elder Abuse
Emotional abuse often takes the form of verbal abuse. Saying frightening things to a patient who is in pain or anxiety-ridden is abusive, as is name-calling or using discriminatory language. Making fun of or denigrating a patient who is unable to fight back on equal footing is malicious and illegal. If your loved one is unable to report such abuse, you should make sure to check for signs that he is being emotionally abused, such as withdrawal, depression, irritability, anger or other changes in behavior.
Financial Elder Abuse
We have all heard of situations in which family members or professional caregivers take advantage of an older person’s poor memory or slowed mathematical thinking to take money, checks, credit cards, or personal possessions for their use. Since older people tend to be less technically savvy than their younger counterparts, caregivers have been known to use the internet to withdraw huge sums, invest funds, charge high-end purchases, or apply for loans under the patient’s name. There have also been cases in which con artists (working as healthcare providers) exploit older patients further by having them change their wills to leave large inheritances to the miscreants.
Contact Katter Law
Having responsibility for an elderly loved one is a heavy weight to bear. At Katter Law, we know only too well how awful it can be to worry that your relative is not being well cared for or, even worse, is being abused. Don’t try to remedy this complex situation on your own. Consult with our nursing home negligence attorneys who have the force and capability to support you. We will level the playing field between your family and the nursing facility with its own legal team. We will take over all legal issues and tirelessly work to win you and your relative the substantial settlement you deserve. Contact our firm today.