It’s a tough choice to put a family member in a nursing home. But sometimes, it is necessary. But just because somebody needs to be in such an establishment does not indicate he or she needs to live in an abusive or depressing environment.

If somebody you love does have to live in a terrible nursing home, it is important that you know your rights.

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect: Basics by Nolo defines the terms neglect and abuse in an excerpt below:

“What is Elder Abuse?

“There is general agreement among health and legal professionals as to the definition of “physical abuse.” The Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging  defines abuse as “the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation or cruel punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish or deprivation by a person, including a caregiver, of goods or services that are necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness.”

“Slapping, pushing, and hitting all constitute physical abuse. The improper use of physical or medicinal restraints also falls into the category of physical abuse. One form of abuse that is becoming more prevalent in nursing homes is sexual abuse. This can take many forms, from rape to requiring a resident to unnecessarily disrobe.

“What is Elder Neglect?

“Defining “neglect” has been much more difficult, primarily because of the numerous forms that neglect can take, and how much the facts vary from one situation to the next. Generally speaking, though, neglect is defined as any failure by a caregiver — whether it is hired staff or even a family member — to fulfill the obligations related to the older person’s care.

“Because an elderly person’s needs are so wide-ranging, the forms of neglect can be just as varied. Typically they include any denial of needs related to shelter, food, clothing, hygiene and medical care.”

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health lawyer consulting a client.

Who is Liable for Nursing Home Injury or Abuse? also by Nolo talks about who’s responsible for the abuse. Is it always the nursing home’s fault? Below are just few examples of a nursing home can be held liable for abuse.

“Generally, incidents of abuse or injury for which the nursing home can be held responsible often fall into the following categories:

  • negligent training of staff
  • negligent hiring of staff, such as a failure to perform adequate background checks
  • failure to properly monitor staff
  • failure to provide adequate security
  • failure to provide for the daily necessities of living, such as food and water
  • medical neglect, such as failing to address medical needs or provide medication
  • failure to protect from health and safety hazards
  • imposition of unreasonable or dangerous physical restraints, and
  • intentional abuse by staff members.”

Liability for Nursing Home Abuse or Injury

Each year, around 4 million elderly individuals are victimized by a form of psychological or physical neglect or abuse. Numerous instances of mistreatment take place in such environment. However, it is not always knowing who is legally responsible for such abuse is not that simple – it could be an employee, the facility, a third party?

This article focuses on determining who might be responsible for nursing home abuse and injuries.

Is the Nursing Home Constantly Liable?

Nursing homes have a duty of care to its residents, which owes to the important and broad nature of the services offered to a nursing home resident, covering items such as food, hygiene, shelter, as well as medical care. Nursing home employees do everything from giving medications to food preparation.

They help with therapy as well as other physical activities. Due to this, there are various activities and settings wherein a resident could suffer abuse or injury.

In general, incidents of injury or abuse for which the establishment can be held liable frequently fall into the categories below:

  • negligent staff training
  • negligent staff hiring, like a failure to carry out sufficient background checks
  • failure to monitor staff properly
  • failure to offer sufficient security
  • failure to offer the day-to-day necessities of living, like water and food
  • medical neglect, like failing to provide medication or address medical needs
  • failure to safeguard from health and safety hazards
  • imposition of dangerous or unreasonable physical restraints
  • deliberate abuse by staff.

Now you know what nursing home abuse is, let us proceed to the various laws concerning the matter. Elder Care and Nursing Home Abuse by Lawyers and Settlements features various topics concerning nursing home abuse. Below is one:

“Nursing Home and Elder Law

“By law, nursing homes must provide care to maintain the highest practicable physical, mental and psycho-social well-being of each resident. Federal and state laws were designed to protect nursing home residents and the abuse or neglect that occurs there and in other assisted living facilities. Many states also require that nursing homes meet individual state standards relating to the type and quality of care required.

“Failure to comply with elder law has resulted in abuse that in turn caused illness, discomfort and death. This abuse is often referred to as “institutional abuse”.

If it can be demonstrated that the establishment was negligent, and such negligence played a part in the injury or abuse of the resident, then the nursing home could be held liable for resulting damages.

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Can Third Parties Be Liable?

It’s so easy to assume the nursing home is constantly liable if a resident is injured or abused. On the other hand, this is not always the case.

For instance, if one resident is injured and endures a bone fracture, then a reasonable assumption may be that a staff member of the nursing home either negligently or intentionally caused the injury. However, there can also be other causes.

A medical equipment or devices like a wheelchair or gurney may have malfunctioned, thus resulting in the injury. In that case, there may be numerous parties liable:

  • the staff member of the nursing home may have incorrectly utilized the equipment
  • an outside contractor could have incorrectly maintained the equipment or device
  • the wheelchair could have been incorrectly designed
  • the wheelchair could have been incorrectly manufactured

Also, third parties may share or bear legal responsibility in numerous other situations, like where medication was wrongly dispensed by an automated device, or where an apparatus malfunctioned or broke. Maybe a resident underwent food poisoning. And in that case, the vendor who delivered the food could be legally responsible, or the outside contractor liable for cleaning the kitchen could be responsible as well.

And in that case, the vendor who delivered the food could be legally responsible, or the outside contractor liable for cleaning the kitchen could be responsible as well.

At times, nursing home visitors or property trespassers wind up abusing or harming residents. In instances like that, the establishment might be held responsible for being unable to provide sufficient security. On the other hand, if a third-party security contractor offers the security to the nursing home, that entity could also be responsible for negligence in delivering its security services.

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