Georgia Nursing Home Abuse Frequently Asked Questions


September 22, 2010

Nursing home abuse and neglect is both widespread and under-reported, as some of society's most vulnerable citizens' are victimized. While nursing home abuse and neglect can take many forms, it often results in serious injuries and even the tragic death of senior citizens. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we have been helping injured people throughout Georgia for over a quarter of a century. Here are examples of some of the questions that families often ask us about nursing home abuse:

How common is nursing home abuse?

Recent studies show nursing home abuse is a massive problem. It has been estimated that as many as 1,000,000 elderly residents are victimized each year, and that such abuse or neglect results in the premature death of 30,000 elderly people per year. As many as one in three nursing homes have been cited by state inspectors for abuse or neglect that was serious or potentially life-threatening. If you have a loved one that is in a nursing home, it is important that you are vigilant and carefully look for signs of abuse or neglect. Because many victims are embarrassed, afraid, or unable to articulate that they are abused, it is also a good idea to give your loved one a chance to privately speak to you about their experience at the facility.

What can I do to make sure I select a safe nursing home where my loved one will not be victimized?

Unfortunately, there is nothing one can do to guarantee their loved one will be safe in a nursing home though there are ways that you can reduce the risk of neglect or abuse. When selecting a nursing home, you should speak to friends, coworkers, and family to seek recommendations from people that you trust. You should also plan multiple visits to the facility, including unannounced visits, so that you can observe the staff and resident interaction, cleanliness of the residents and facility, socialization or isolation of residents, and the like. It is also a good idea to speak with the director of the facility about licensing, training, and staff to resident ratio at the nursing home. There are also websites online, including the Medicare website, that rate and evaluate nursing homes and provide detailed information about violations. While research and vigilance cannot guarantee the safety of your loved one, it can greatly increase the odds.

What are the signs that my loved one is a victim of neglect or abuse?

Sometimes there will be obvious signs of abuse and neglect, including, by way of example only, bed sores or rashes on ones body, the odor of fecal material or urine emanating from one's bed or body, obvious weight loss, lack of hydration, or obvious changes in mood and attitude. Many cases of elder abuse go unreported so it is important to carefully observe the physical condition and mental attitude of your loved one when you visit for signs of abuse or neglect. You should also speak with your loved one privately so that they do not have to fear reprisals from nursing home staff for disclosing neglect or abuse.

What types of nursing home abuse and neglect are there?

Nursing home abuse can include verbal, sexual, physical, mental, and financial abuse, or neglect in failing to provide adequately for basic needs health and safety needs, such as, nutrition, hydration, hygiene, medication, supervision, or medical care.

Why is nursing home abuse and neglect such a problem?

Unfortunately, many Nursing homes choose profit margin over supplying more support staff and care for residents. The staff at nursing home facilities are often underpaid, overworked, and not adequately trained. To save money some nursing homes also do not do background checks to ensure that a potential member of the staff does not have a history of abuse and neglect. Working with the elderly in a nursing home can also be a high pressure, stressful job, which compounds the problem if the wrong person joins the staff. Because many elderly cannot articulate the fact that they are being victimized, this inability to report incidents of abuse and neglect also contributes to the problem.

If my loved one does not have a contract with the nursing home can they still sue for inadequate care or abuse?

The existence of a written contract is not necessary to bring an action for compensation based on neglect or abuse against a nursing home. A nursing home can be liable under a negligence theory for failure to provide adequate care and supervision of residents, negligent hiring, training, supervision or retention of staff, and negligent maintenance of the premises or equipment. A resident may also pursue a claim for sexual abuse, assault, or battery regardless of the existence of a written contract with the facility.

What constitutes financial abuse or exploitation in a nursing home environment?

This basically means using the resident's funds, property or financial resources without permission. This also applies when consent is obtained by fraud or duress. One should carefully monitor a loved ones accounts for unexplained expenditures, sudden unexplained sales of property, and missing or stolen property.

Can the nursing home restrain my loved one with straps or medication?

Using physical restraints or medication to restrain a resident just for convenience is a form of physical abuse. If you observe bruises in the pattern of restraints, this should be reported immediately to the director of the facility and may be reason to seek legal advice. The same is true of using medication to sedate a resident simply for the convenience of the nursing home.

How serious is the problem with understaffing in the nursing home industry?

A Congressional report concluded that 54% of nursing homes are understaffed, contributing to nursing home abuse and neglect. One reason the problem is so widespread is that two-thirds of nursing home costs are paid from public funds, but Medicare and Medicaid have not increased their payment rates at a pace that has kept up with costs.

If you believe your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, you should contact Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law today for your free initial consultation. It is best to do this as quickly as possible so that evidence can be preserved, and to help prevent important documents and paperwork from going missing or being altered. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, our Georgia nursing home abuse attorneys will work hard to get you the compensation you deserve. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia including, but not limited to, Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller and rural towns in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com.  No matter where you are in Georgia, we are just a phone call away!

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.