Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Saying No To Abuse and Negligence In Highland
Deciding to move a loved one into assisted living, supported care or a nursing home setting can often be painful, and it is only natural that family members take significant steps to ensure that their relative is safe, supported, and looked after.
Nursing home negligence demonstrates a complete betrayal of these values and destroys the trust of those involved, as well as compromising the wellbeing of the resident in question. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help you achieve a just outcome and ensure that any negligence is dealt with quickly and completely.
What Is Already In Place?
The United States Congress has already implemented several laws to help protect those in nursing homes. This started with the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, designed to establish a base level with regards to standards of care, to protect the psychological, physical, and social well-being of residents, as well as outline their fundamental rights, including the right to be treated with dignity, and make their own decisions.
In Indiana, vulnerable adults in nursing homes are protected by the Adult Protective Services Act, which is intended to protect the welfare of the residents. This Act states that everyone employed in a nursing home has a legal duty to report any suspicion of danger or neglect to the state authorities and sets out the reporting procedures they are required to follow.
What Are The Signs of Nursing Home Negligence?
Negligence is defined under Indiana law as occurring when
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
- The defendant breached this duty
- But for the actions of the defendant, or their failure to act, the plaintiff would not have suffered the injury
- The defendant’s action or failure to act was a proximate cause of the injury, and the defendant could have foreseen this; and
- The plaintiff suffered damages
Signs of neglect and negligence in the nursing home setting include:
- Bed sores (decubitus ulcers)
- Resident is living in an unsanitary environment
- Signs of malnutrition, dehydration, infection
- A smell of urine and/or feces
- Resident appears unkempt
- Wounds, cuts, abrasions, burns
- Falls, bedrail incidents
- Bruises, welts, swelling, burns
- Broken bones, sudden inexplicable weight loss
- Unexplained/hidden injuries
- Unwarranted restraints (either physical or chemical)
- Sudden changes in behavior or unusual behaviour patterns, such as depression, withdrawal, or an unwillingness to communicate, or signs of fear or hesitation
- Unjustified isolation
- Rude, humiliating, or derogatory comments by staff
- Physical abuse or insufficient protection from physical or sexual abuse
Any of these could be signs that something is not quite right in the nursing home and suggests that the staff and managers are breaching their legal duty of care.
What Obligations Do Nursing Homes Have?
As discussed above, all nursing homes have a duty of care to their residents. This means that they are required to meet certain standards and procedures and this includes properly assessing the health and needs of each resident. Each resident of the home should have their own care plan which is followed accurately, which is designed to help prevent injuries, and which ensures that the needs of each resident are met in full.
In addition, nursing homes are required to meet minimum numbers and standards with regards to staffing; this includes ensuring that there is enough staff on shift and that these staff members are adequately trained to carry out the role.
Homes must regularly reassess the needs of residents and make changes and modifications to care plans accordingly. Failure to do this, or to follow the plan at all, is likely negligence, and legal claims can be made. All nursing homes also must ensure that safe, reasonable care is provided to all of their residents; failure to deliver this can be followed up with a negligence claim.
What Are My Rights?
As a friend, family member, or observer, some might say you have a moral duty to take action if you suspect that a nursing home is being negligent. All nursing homes in Indiana are licensed and regulated by the Indiana State Department of Health, Long-Term Care Division. They have a legal obligation to inspect homes regularly and to follow up on any complaint filed against a facility. They should be one of your first calls if you suspect abuse or neglect to help ensure the safety of all residents in the home.
You may also be able to bring about a claim for negligence to help seek damages for an individual. If a family member or loved one has been neglected, and the nursing home is found to be liable, you may be able to claim compensation or damages on their behalf. It is important that you have a qualified legal professional on your side to help you handle this. At Hilbrich Law Firm, we have been working with victims of negligence and their families for many years, operating all across the Highland area. We can offer the advice and support you need to help you determine the best course of action and work with you to take those first steps to justice. Call us today at (219) 924-2427.