Nursing home residents are prone to injuries, especially due to accidental falls and complications from health conditions. However, some injuries are due to abuse or neglect from nursing home staff members.
Understanding the warning signs of elder abuse in a nursing home may help family members distinguish between accidental and intentional injuries.
Unreported nursing home abuse
According to an article from U.S. News and World Report, may cases of nursing home neglect and abuse go unreported. Federal laws require nursing home facilities to report instances of abuse and neglect that involve individuals in the Medicare system. However, data from a Health and Human Services investigation indicates that there were over 6,000 unreported cases of neglect or abuse in 2016 alone. These incidents often ended up with elderly patients requiring emergency care for injuries.
Rights of nursing home residents
FindLaw states that the law includes protections and recourses for nursing home residents who experience neglect and/or abuse. Federal protections extend to individuals who are residents of nursing homes that are part of the Medicare network. Under federal law, nursing home staff members may not subject a resident to mental, sexual, physical or verbal abuse. Patients also have protection against chemical or physical restraints that are not part of medical treatment. If a nursing home resident or a family member suspects abuse, he or she may go through a state-managed reporting system.
Neglect is another aspect of poor medical care that may cause a nursing home resident physical, mental or emotional injury. According to FindLaw, a nursing home must provide a resident with essential services: medical care, food, shelter and clothing. A nursing facility may not create a harmful or unsafe living environment through negligent or careless actions. Reports of abuse or neglect may lead to criminal investigations and/or civil legal actions.