Know the signs of nursing home abuse and your legal rights

The elderly are among the most vulnerable when it comes to injuries, and when it comes to those who live at nursing homes, the risk can be even higher. While there are many cases where nursing home residents may be outright abused by either a family member or an impatient staff member, one of the biggest concerns comes from neglect.

When neglect happens, injuries occur that should be preventable, such as falls, bedsores, and medication errors. According to the Center for Disease Control, falls alone cause 1,800 nursing home deaths a year.

What makes a nursing home liable?

While there are some instances where accidents happen, many accidents can and should be prevented. When an injury arises from the home’s inability to provide the care due to patients who rely on full time assistance, that failure can be constituted as negligence.

Liability for accidents in nursing homes lay with a variety of people. The home’s management can be held liable for not properly training staff, or simply not having enough staff on hand to properly respond to a resident’s needs. Kitchen and food providers can be held responsible for not keeping proper track of allergies or other food sensitivities. Maintenance can be named negligent for wet floors or other obstacles that are present without proper warning. Individual caregivers may also be named if certain injuries, such as bedsores, show up repeatedly on their watch.

How to stay involved

Negligence in nursing homes is more likely to happen when concerned family members are less involved. Letting the nursing home staff know that you see their mistakes can go a long way toward helping them “watch their step.” A nursing home patient who falls and injures herself on the way to the bathroom when she is supposed to get help from a staff member when she calls has likely suffered a preventable injury.

Several red flags may be present before an actual injury, such as increased instances of incontinence or infections. By asking questions and demanding answers on small occurrences you may prompt staff to stay more attentive and prevent larger more serious accidents.

If more serious injuries do occur, it is important not to just stand by. Instead, consult with a personal injury attorney who can help you determine to what extent the nursing home may be responsible and what you can do to have your loved one compensated for the injury as well as see what steps to take to limit any future injuries to your loved ones or to others.

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