Personal Injury In Nursing Homes
Instead of compassion and caring, many elder Americans in institutional care facilities receive cruel and even hostile treatment at the hands of persons paid to keep them safe and make sure their needs are met. Reports of nursing home abuse occur with alarming frequency in Georgia yet it is suspected that many instances of elder mistreatment go unreported. Understanding why personal injury in nursing homes happens and recognizing the circumstances that indicate abuse has or may occur can help keep your loved one from experiencing a psychological or physical injury. At Hall & Lampros, LLP, the Atlanta nursing home abuse attorneys believe that persons dependent on the care of others are entitled to maintain their dignity and be treated with respect. For a free evaluation regarding suspected nursing home abuse call 404-876-8100.
How Frequently Does Nursing Abuse and Neglect Occur?
Nursing home abuse and neglect is an ongoing problem that occurs in even the most upscale of elder care facilities. According to a recent study of 400 elder care facilities across Georgia, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), identified over 600 allegations of neglect and 90 of abuse between 2016 and 2019. The study found that 20 elder residents died as a result of caregivers failing to provide the needed care.
Physical acts of abuse by caregivers included slapping, pinching, and pushing down elder residents. Psychological abuse included verbal cruelty toward residents about their infirmities.
Residents were left to endure unsanitary conditions, wait long periods for emergency care, and suffer painful injuries from falls without receiving medical treatment.
Why do Caregivers in Nursing Homes Injure or Abuse Patients?
A variety of factors can contribute to an atmosphere where nursing home abuse is more likely to take place. A nursing home short on resources and lacking appropriate management may not hire the most qualified persons as caregivers or provide adequate supervision of the work they do. The individual characteristics of the residents and the level of care required can also increase the risk of abuse.
Elder care advocate Nursing Home Abuse Justice suggests these reasons for nursing home abuse:
- Understaffing – Fewer people trying to do more can lead to higher stress among caregivers and neglect of duties and responsibilities.
- Untrained and inexperienced caregivers – Failure to properly train caregivers can lead to inappropriate responses to the behaviors and needs of residents.
- Low wages – Inadequate pay may leave caregivers feeling undervalued and unmotivated to provide higher standards of care.
- Facility mismanagement – Poorly run nursing homes fail to properly supervise caregivers and there is little accountability for substandard resident care.
- Issues personal to caregivers – Caregivers dealing with personal issues may choose to take out their frustrations on vulnerable residents who cannot fight back.
- Risk factors of residents – Residents needing greater levels of care or seen as more vulnerable are at a greater risk for abuse.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Remains Underreported
The true incidence of nursing home abuse is thought to be much higher than the reported numbers. Studies have revealed that abuse is underreported by caregiving facilities as well as their residents. A recent report generated by the Office Of Inspector General (OIG) did a sample study of high-risk hospital ER Medicare claims from skilled nursing facilities in 2016 and found that 1 in 5 claims was the result of neglect or abuse. The OIG further concluded that about 84% of the neglect or abuse claims were not reported as required by federal regulations.
Residents of nursing homes may be unable or unwilling to report incidents of abuse due to:
- Mental or physical disability
- Dependence on the abuser
- Fear of retaliation or other negative consequences
- Do not think they will be believed
- Guilt or shame about the incident
What Can be Done to Keep Your Loved One Safe
When perpetrators feel less likely to be held accountable for their actions the risk of abuse is greater. Family members with loved ones in nursing homes can help remove the opportunities for abuse by:
- Choosing a nursing home with a good record of resident treatment
- Visiting frequently and at varying times
- Meeting and getting to know caregivers
- Being watchful for changes in behavior or appearance that suggest something is wrong
Although not as likely to prevent abuse, installing a hidden camera in a nursing home resident’s room can provide proof of abuse. Georgia legislators have been unable to pass a law that would allow ‘electronic monitoring equipment’ to be placed in the rooms of nursing home residents. However, in December 2021, the Georgia Supreme Court held that evidence from a secret camera in the room of an elder rehabilitation center resident could be used to prove abuse by a rehabilitation center employee.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Should Never Be Tolerated
Nursing home abuse is a failure to protect some of our state’s most vulnerable people at a time when they need our support the most. The more elder care facilities are exposed for their violations, the faster their culture will change and fewer people will suffer. At Hall & Lampros, LLP, our nursing home abuse lawyers are available to help families who have suffered injury or loss at the hands of a Georgia nursing home. Contact Hall & Lampros, LLP at 404-876-8100.
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