Is a proactive approach possible against nursing home neglect?

A nursing home can serve an important function, helping ease the transition from retirement to assisted living. However, a recent article reminds us that not all facilities may provide the same quality of care. In fact, some nursing home staff might even be accused of service that falls below a professional standard of care. If such service were to result in resident injuries, a jury might determine the behavior to be negligent, thereby implicating civil liability and a potential damages award. In fact, our personal liability law firm focuses on nursing home abuse and neglect and can offer experienced assistance in proving negligence. 

In a recent example, a retired couple is suing a licensed nursing home facility for negligence, claiming that the man’s wife suffered injuries because staff did not timely assist her when she requested to use the restroom. After one delay, the man’s wife tried to make it to the bathroom without help, only to fall and suffer a broken leg. That injury rendered her immobile, making her further subject to the care of the nursing home staff.

Most readers would likely prefer to avoid nursing home neglect in the first place. Is a proactive approach possible? As a preliminary step, an individual might ensure that a nursing home is properly licensed. The Alabama State Board of Health promulgates rules applicable to nursing homes, including licensing and administrative procedures.

Beyond that inquiry, there is also a website operated by Medicare, called Nursing Home Compare. Some of the data tracked by the site includes staffing levels, inspection reports, and possibly even medication practices. Notably, medications can also be an area of potential negligence, as data from a 2014 Department of Health and Human Services report indicated that 83 percent of nursing home residents were prescribed medication for unapproved uses, such as off-label uses. 

Source: ABC Action News, “I-Team: Know about nursing homes' records before placing your loved one there,” Adam Walser, July 17, 2015

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