Rochester, MN Nursing Home Abuse
In recent decades, both state and federal lawmakers have attempted to place stricter regulations on the nursing home industry. Although these measures have helped improve health standards in nursing homes, allegations of elder abuse continues to pour in at an alarming rate. In fact, according to one congressional report, an estimated 30 percent of nursing homes in the U.S. were issued more than 9,000 citations for violating federal regulations over a two year period.
While imagining our loved ones as the victims of abuse is painful, it is important to remain vigilant for signs of mistreatment or neglect and to attempt to hold those responsible for this type of conduct accountable for their actions. If you believe that a loved one is being neglected or abused at a nursing home, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our dedicated and compassionate Rochester nursing home abuse lawyers for an explanation of your relative’s legal rights and possible remedies.
Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
Although many of those who hear the phrase “nursing home abuse” imagine physical abuse, the reality is that this type of abuse can actually take a number of forms, including mental, emotional, sexual, and verbal abuse. The term physical abuse is also not just limited to physical violence, but includes a variety of behaviors, including:
- Failing to provide adequate nutrition or fluids;
- Failing to provide proper medical care;
- Providing inadequate sanitation;
- Failing to distribute prescription medications; and
- Failing to provide opportunities for exercise or recreation.
Because physical nursing home abuse can take so many different forms, the relatives of residents are encouraged to keep an eye out for any of the following signs that a loved one may be suffering from abuse:
- Unexplained weight loss or evidence of malnutrition;
- Evidence of dehydration;
- Untreated bed sores;
- Torn clothing;
- Unexplained infections or bacterial diseases;
- Unexplained bruises and welts;
- Poor personal hygiene;
- Dislocated joints, fractures, and ankle and wrist sprains; and
- Marks indicating the use of restraints.
Evidence of verbal and psychological abuse, on the other hand, is more difficult to identify, so this type of behavior often goes unnoticed for months or even years. Although there are few physical symptoms of mental or emotional abuse, family members should still look for signs of depression, weight loss, insomnia, sudden changes in personality, or increasing nervousness, all of which can be signs that a nursing home resident is being verbally or emotionally abused by an employee or fellow resident.
This type of conduct is not only unethical, but it is also illegal, as nursing homes are specifically required to ensure that residents are kept comfortable, receive medical care, and also have rights to privacy. Facilities that fail to fulfill these requirements face fines and could even be shut down by the state. Injured residents and family members also have the right to file a civil claim against the nursing home, seeking damages to cover relocation costs and medical bills, and compensating them for pain and suffering and emotional distress. In tragic cases, when a resident passes away as a result of neglect, his or her family could also seek wrongful death damages.
Aside from being prohibited from actively abusing or neglecting residents, nursing homes must also take steps to ensure that facilities are kept free of hazards. Generally, Minnesota law requires all nursing home administrators to provide a safe, functional, clean, comfortable, and homelike physical environment for residents, which includes allowing them to bring personal belongings when admitted and ensuring that hallways are equipped with securely anchored, durable handrails. Individual rooms must also be furnished with a bed of proper size, a clean and comfortable mattress, clean bedding, a chair, a bedside table with a drawer, clean bath linens, and a bed light, while the walls, floors, ceilings, and furnishings of facilities must also be kept in good repair. Similarly, ramps, walks, and steps must be maintained in good condition so that they are safe to use and accessible at all times, while facilities must also maintain systems that will provide for comfortable and safe temperatures, as well as hot water. Finally, aside from being required to provide basic care services and access to nurses who are on-call 24 hours a day, nursing homes must provide adequate meals, laundry services, transportation, and even recreational activities to residents.
It’s important to keep in mind that these requirements were put in place by the state legislature and that Congress enacted another set of federal rules with which nursing homes must also comply. For instance, federal law requires all nursing homes to provide access to rehabilitative services, programs that offer recreational activities, access to a pharmacy, and nursing and dental services. Under federal law, states are required to investigate allegations of neglect or abuse that are raised against nursing home facilities for failing to provide these services and to issue written findings on the result. In fact, even when no accusations are made against a nursing home, officials must conduct surveys of nursing home premises at least once every 15 months. While these laws have significantly increased federal oversight of nursing homes across the country, nursing home abuse continues to occur across the country, making it especially important for those with family members who reside in nursing homes to remain vigilant for evidence of neglect.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Rochester, MN Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
Although recovering monetary compensation for a loved one’s abuse at the hands of a nursing home employee could never fully compensate a victim and his or her family, it can be invaluable when it comes to helping the resident relocate, obtain medical treatment, and begin the long road to recovery. If you have questions about pursuing your own nursing home abuse case in Rochester, MN, please call (763) 225-2319 or send us an online message and a member of our legal team will help you schedule a free case evaluation with one of the dedicated nursing home abuse lawyers at Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm, LLC. We are standing by and eager to help you through each step of your case.
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