Abuse Of The Vulnerable
As you may recall from an earlier article, we are representing victims against Saint Francis Hospital for the sexual abuse of children at the hospital by one of their doctors. We now write about a different type of abuse – that suffered by the elderly in nursing homes.
As of July 2004, approximately 36 million of our population – about 12% – were 65 years old or older. By 2010 – next year – an additional 78 million people will have turned 65. Yes, that is a more than threefold increase. Among the industries poised to benefit from the aging of America is the nursing home business. We will be in their care, along with our loved ones. We must hold them to their obligation to provide reasonable care.
Nursing homes – or “Extended Care Facilities” – provide rehabilitation and strengthening to patients coming out of extended hospital stays or surgical procedures. They provide respite care for sick relatives or someone in need of temporary care. Most significantly, they have become long-term homes for our aged friends and relatives who can no longer care for themselves. As our population continues to age, and as life expectancy continues to increase, the role of nursing homes – and legal claims related to the failure of nursing homes to properly care for their patients – will become more and more significant.
Nursing homes must provide a safe environment for their patients, many of whom are at risk from falls, infections, or medical complications.
Many patients suffer from cognitive impairments such as poor eyesight, hearing loss, or dementia, all of which increase the need for skilled care. Nursing homes must do what they can to make their residents comfortable and engage them in social and physical activities.We should expect them to provide a high level of care to our loved ones, and should expect them to be held accountable when they fail to do so.
Americans’ feelings about nursing homes are not hard to gauge. A 2005 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only 35% of Americans believed nursing homes did a “good job” for their patients – a stark contrast to hospitals (64%), doctors (69%), and nurses (84%).This should come as no surprise; complaints of nursing home neglect are on the rise, and will continue to rise as more of our population enters such facilities.
Because they are charged with the complete care and treatment of their patients, nursing home neglect can take many forms. Immobile patients must be repositioned frequently to avoid bedsores or pressure wounds. Patients unable to comprehend their surroundings may require bed alarms to alert staff to their movements and to avoid injury. Patients with mobility restrictions may need assistance in dressing, bathing, and transitioning from bed to chair. Many times, safely assisting a patient requires significant time, work, or the help of multiple aides – tempting nursing homes to “cut corners” by making do with less.While cutting corners may help the bottom line, it places our loved ones at risk. Failures by nursing homes in any of the above situations can lead to catastrophic – and sometimes fatal – consequences to the patient.
As our population continues to age, more and more of our elderly will enter nursing homes, where we expect they will be treated with dignity, care, and safety.We are here to help. If you think someone you care about has not been treated properly, call us.We work closely with experts in the field to evaluate each case.We provide initial consultations without charge or obligation.Where there has been a failure of care that has hurt your loved one, we will work with you to hold the nursing home accountable.
Bruce is a totally capable attorney with tremendous integrity and personal charm. He is responsive to his clients’ needs and cares greatly about doing his job well. –Client comment, 2008