As the population ages, more people are living in nursing homes. When choosing a nursing home, we strive to choose a home that provides the best possible care. Unfortunately, nursing homes sometimes fall short of that standard.
If you believe your loved one may be receiving negligent care, a nursing home negligence attorney can help explain your legal options.
Many nursing home residents suffer physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), half a million people over 60 are abused or neglected each year.
Around 0.21 percent (1 million) older adults live in U.S. assisted living facilities. Nevada contains approximately 66 certified Medicare and Medicaid nursing homes. Many of these are in the Northern Nevada, including the Reno, Carson City, and Sparks areas.
The problem of nursing home negligence increases as the population ages. According to 2018 data, 52 million people in the U.S. were age 65 and older. The Population Reference Bureau reports that from about 2020 to 2030, that figure will grow approximately 18 million to 70 million people aged 65 and older. Annually, about one in 10 older adults are the victims of abuse or neglect.
The Federal Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 defines nursing home neglect as “failure to provide goods and services necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness.”
This may include care that takes place or fails to take place in a nursing home. These range widely in severity. In some cases, neglect leads to physical injuries such as infections or declining health conditions. In others, their negligence contributes to mental and emotional consequences, such as depression and isolation.
Neglect can occur in a nursing home in many ways. Any failure to provide reasonable expected care for the wellbeing of a patient may constitute neglect. It does not matter if the caregiver intentionally neglected the resident or not—the nursing home staff is responsible for providing appropriate care.
Neglect may include:
Infectious disease. Controlling the spread of infectious diseases in nursing homes is a huge problem. According to 2017 statistics, approximately 40 percent of facilities did not have safe levels of infection control. Currently, the most urgent problem is controlling the spread of coronavirus. While the situation continues to evolve, there is no doubt that older adults, many of whom have compromised immune systems, are especially at risk.
In general, people who live in close quarters are particularly vulnerable to contagious illnesses. Visitors, caregivers, and support staff may also expose residents to infection. Experts recommend that all staff be properly trained in cleaning, hygiene methods, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
Physical abuse. This may include hitting, kicking, or physically injuring a resident. Signs of physical abuse include unexplained bruises, welts, cuts, or burns. Lethargy or restraint marks may also indicate possible abuse.
Emotional abuse. Yelling, threatening, or belittling residents, or other treatments that cause emotional distress are forms of emotional abuse. Signs to watch out for include withdrawal, fear of certain staff members, depression, and anxiety.
Sexual abuse. This is non-consensual sexual conduct. Signs may include sexually transmitted disease, pelvic injuries, or withdrawal.
Financial abuse. Like other forms of abuse, financial abuse can be detrimental to a resident’s economic situation and lead to emotional distress. Signs of financial abuse may include missing checks or credit cards or unexplained account deficits.
Nursing homes that accept Medicare are subject to Federal Regulations regarding the standard of care provided to facility residents. For example, 42 CFR sec. 483.25 (h) requires a safe and hazard-free environment, proper supervision, and the necessary assistance devices for residents.
Nevada nursing home laws require that each patient receive a comprehensive plan of care with measurable objectives and timetables to ensure the patient’s best possible wellbeing. The State of Nevada Aging and Disability Services Division supervises some aspects of Nevada nursing homes.
Nevada recognizes five areas of elder abuse regarding care facilities or those with primary caregiving responsibilities:
When an act of neglect or abuse harms a resident, the nursing home may be legally responsible. To establish a negligence claim, the plaintiff must show that the nursing home owed a duty of care to the resident, that the nursing home breached the duty of care, the resident suffered harm, and that the resident’s harm resulted from the breach.
Anyone concerned about possible nursing home negligence should begin collecting and preserving evidence of the harm before it disappears.
A shocking number of cases of nursing home neglect, abuse, and exploitation are not reported. According to the U.S. Justice Department, only about one out of every 57 cases of caregiver neglect is reported. There are several possible reasons for this.
Claims based on nursing home negligence have a deadline, known as a statute of limitations. Therefore, you should consult an attorney regarding the appropriate statute of limitations for your claim. If you have a loved one in your life who suffered abuse or neglect at the hands of a nursing home caregiver in Northern Nevada, including Reno, Carson City, or Sparks, an experienced, compassionate nursing home negligence attorney can help protect your rights and fight for the compensation you or your loved ones deserve. Contact a Reno personal injury attorney today to discuss your legal options.
Benson & Bingham (Reno Office)
1320 E Plumb Lane Ste A
Reno, NV 89502