Thoroughly vetting the quality of nursing homes before you entrust any of them with the care of an aging loved one is imperative. The upkeep of nursing homes' facilities and supplies can be a matter of life and death. However, it's not just the things that the nursing home has in stock or as utilities that play a vital role in ensuring a safe and hospitable environment. The professional and caring conduct of the staff, or the lack thereof, can and should be a massively influential factor in the decision process.
Unfortunately, some examples of poor treatment of nursing home residents by staff members can fall through the cracks. Even in the best rated homes, nursing home abuse can occur. For proper preparation if and when you or a loved one falls victim to nursing home malpractice, the following things are all essential to know.
Abuse Case Frequency
Statistics on nursing home abuse show that as many as 5,000,00 elders are abused on an annual basis; this frequency can easily equal as many as 1 in 10 nursing home residents. The statistics on abuse frequency indicate that nearly a quarter of all nursing home residents (24.3%) experienced at least one form of physical abuse.
While the statistics on the frequency of abuse speak for themselves, the frequency of abuse reports isn't nearly as high as what could be considered ideal. Figures as low as 1 in 14 or even 1 in 25 have been brought up as projections for just exactly how underrepresented these cases could truly be.
Physical and Non-Physical Abuse
Rather than simple violent abuses, some of the most troubling cases of elder abuse can manifest in ways that don't involve direct physical contact at all. Merely being too negligent to directly address residents' needs in a timely manner can be harmful enough to constitute the grounds for an abuse claim. Negligence may also manifest in the form of staff who repeatedly fail to report when other forms of overt abuse are occurring on their watch.
Another form of abuse may be the failure to ensure that the areas residents occupy are free of potentially harmful hazards. The hazards could be things that the staff were already aware of but failed to take proactive measures to eliminate as a threat before an incident resulting in bodily harm occurred. Naturally, this can also tie into a failure to properly maintain the right policies for health and safety.
Addressing the Abuse Properly
Because these cases of nursing home malpractice are already so under-reported, your best bet in the event that you want to file a claim is to make sure that you document as many details as you possibly can. Record any and everything from the time of day or night that the incident occurred to the presence (or absence) of facility documentation that should highlight the awareness that staff members. If anything can substantiate the fact that staff members failed to be wary of factors in the circumstances leading to the incident, you'll want to include in your files for any legal consultation you seek.
To learn more about the fine details of nursing home malpractice and other important legal matters, contact us at Smiley & Smiley LLP Attorneys at Law.