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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.

What Is Nursing Home Negligence?

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.

Common Examples of Nursing Home Neglect

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:

  • Failing to provide adequate medical, mental health, or dental care.
  • Failure to appropriately monitor a resident’s health conditions.
  • Failure to provide necessary hygiene care, such as bathing, toilet use, and changing clothes.
  • Inadequate supervision of patients.
  • Failing to maintain appropriate standards of cleanliness and safety in rooms and common areas.
  • Not providing adequate food or hydration.
  • Failing to respond to call lights or help patients when they ask for assistance.
  • Not providing mobility assistance.
  • Not providing sufficient activities or therapy.

Types of Neglect and Abuse

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.

Nevada Personal Injury Attorney
Joseph L. Benson II, and Ben J. Bingham, Reno Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys

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.

Regulations Regarding the Standard of Care

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.

Nursing Home Negligence Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

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:

  • Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Exploitation
  • Isolation
  • Abandonment

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.

Why Do Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Frequently Go Unreported?

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.

  • First, many nursing home residents are physically and/or mentally infirm. They may have difficulty with sight, hearing, or cognitive ability, so they cannot protect themselves.
  • Second, negligent caregivers may claim that alleged neglect or abuse is just a symptom of mental deterioration.
  • Third, the staff is frequently overworked, unqualified, or inadequately trained.
  • Fourth, residents may hesitate to report negligence because they fear getting a staff member in trouble.
  • Finally, staff may avoid reporting incidents for fear of reprisals.

What Kinds of Negligence Can Occur in a Reno Nursing Home?

When you make the difficult decision to have your loved one cared for in a nursing home facility, you trust that the providers and staff of your chosen facility will maintain your loved one’s health and safety throughout his or her stay. Unfortunately, not all facilities and healthcare professionals provide the level of care and dedication required of their profession. When doctors cut corners and ignore patient needs, the facility may bear liability for the negligent care of its residents.

Negligence in a nursing home setting can take place in different ways. Some examples may include direct, intentional negligence, while other examples of negligence may occur due to a combination of factors and failures on the part of an organization as a whole.

Examples of negligence can include:
  • Lack of proper nutrition – Nursing home facilities must provide all residents the necessities for life. This includes proper hydration and nutrition. For some residents with disabilities or limitations, this may require the caretakers to individually feed the patient. When a patient does not get adequate food or water, he or she may begin to suffer the effects of malnutrition and dehydration by becoming weak, losing bodily functions and abilities, and contracting illnesses.
  • Lack of hygiene and cleanliness – Part of the care of a nursing home resident involves providing personal care and cleaning the resident’s body and living quarters. Routine bathing, changing of clothes and bedsheets, and ensuring dental hygiene all ensure the overall health and care of an individual living in a nursing home. When caregivers ignore these needs, the patient may have strong body odors, including the smell of urine or feces, and a generally unkempt appearance. This cannot only affect a patient’s physical wellbeing but his or her emotional and mental state as well.
  • Lack of proper medical care and treatment – Many patients in nursing homes have medical issues that require care and treatment to maintain and address. Patients may require the routine examination and care of doctors and nurses and the support of caretakers to properly administer prescriptions, rehabilitation, and the treatment of health issues. When a caregiver violates this duty of care, a patient can face health challenges and difficulties that would not otherwise occur if he or she received proper precautions and care.
  • Lack of emotional support- Living in a nursing home involves more than just receiving care for a patient’s physical needs, but also the facility must provide the opportunity for residents to get adequate emotional and societal interactions with other residents, staff, and visitors. If any obstacles exist that work to isolate a patient, either purposefully or through convenience, this may rise to the neglect of the parties responsible for your loved one’s care and wellbeing.
  • Unsafe environment or conditions – A nursing home must provide safe living conditions for a resident to prevent avoidable accidents, illness, and injuries. This must include the maintenance of the nursing home and living quarters-which must remain free from hazards and dangers, the upkeep of working air conditioning in hot environments, as well as heating in cold weather conditions and during winter months. This must also take into account the need to keep residents as safe as possible from contracting communicable diseases that can result in death, such as COVID-19.

What Signs of Nursing Home Neglect Should I Watch Out For?

Nursing home abuse and neglect can present physical, emotional, or psychological warning signs in the patient. Elderly patients in nursing homes face a particular risk of suffering abuse and neglect because of their often-debilitated health and/or mental state. If a patient suffers from memory loss or struggles to communicate, it can prove especially difficult to discern whether the patient has experienced nursing home abuse.

As a family member of a loved one under the care of a nursing home, some warning signs exist that can reveal nursing home neglect. Identification of possible neglect of a loved one in a nursing home can alert you of the need to get help.

Warning signs of nursing home neglect can include:
  • Excessive sleepiness or confusion
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Loss of mobility and function
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Bruising or lacerations
  • Fractures
  • Repeated falls
  • Bedsores
  • Weight loss

What Are the Common Causes of Reno Nursing Home Neglect?

Nursing home neglect can stem from a specific provider or staff member or might involve an organizational issue throughout an entire facility. Many different causes can lead to nursing home negligence. When you entrust the care of your loved one in a nursing home, you do so with the expectation that your loved one will receive proper care and treatment at all times. Any failures that lead to an injury of a loved one constitute inexcusable acts of negligence.

Common causes of nursing home negligence include:

  • Lack of Adequate Staff – Not all negligence results from intentional actions on behalf of the staff. If a facility does not have enough staff and medical providers in a nursing home to adequately care for the number of patients present, the administration and owners of the facility that hasn’t provided patients with the support needed may bear liability. Many nursing home patients require around-the-clock care.
  • Inadequate Training – Staff shortages can lead facilities to provide employees with insufficient training and to hire employees with little experience. Improper training can lead staff to make mistakes and errors that will cause injury to their patients.
  • Negligent Hiring Practices – If an employer does not conduct a background check and adequately vet the credentials of a potential staff member, and he or she causes preventable injuries to residents in the nursing home, the facility can bear liability for its failures.
  • Maintenance Failures – Failure to upkeep the premises, equipment, and living quarters by a facility that later results in injury to a resident may constitute negligence.

What Should You Do If You Believe Your Loved One Has Suffered Nursing Home Abuse in Reno?

If you have identified potential signs of abuse or neglect of your loved one currently in a nursing home, protect your loved one’s life, then seek justice and compensation from the responsible parties. Contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney at Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers to discuss the details of your situation, but below we provide recommendations of what to do when your suspicions first come about.

How Can You Voice Your Concerns?

If at any point in the care of your loved one at a nursing home, you feel concerned about potential abuse or neglect, you must immediately voice those concerns to the administration of the facility.

Use caution to not confront the potential abuser or party you believe may bear liability for the neglect to avoid any possibility of retaliation against your loved one. If, after you secure your loved one’s safety, you want us to investigate and then talk to the nursing home administrator, give us a call. That may preserve your right to compensation and prevent the nursing home from covering up the problem.

We can find out the process to file a formal complaint with the facility and put your concerns to those in charge in writing. A verbal complaint or verbal communication may not get the reception that you want. A written complaint will put more pressure on the facility to take corrective action as soon as possible and reduce the likelihood that the facility will ignore or overlook your concerns. It will also lay the groundwork for further legal action if you want to pursue it.

How Do You Keep Your Loved One Safe?

Once you have reported the issues to the administration of facilities, you must determine if the actions that they take prove sufficient to keep your loved one safe. If the facility takes corrective action immediately and replaces the individual responsible for the negligence with another caretaker or staff member, you may feel okay leaving your loved one in the facility.

However, if the facility refuses to take action or delays action on your complaint, you should prioritize keeping your loved one safe from further harm. This may require you to transfer your loved one to a qualified and professional nursing home facility as soon as possible.

Gather Evidence and Keep Detailed Records. Make sure to collect all evidence of any signs of neglect of your loved one. This can include photographs, videos, medical records, as well as an account of your loved one’s or your observations. Note all conversations and actions taken in the care of your loved one that may prove relevant to a nursing home negligence case. Record the names and the roles of the caretakers, doctors, administrators, and staff involved in the care of your loved one. This information may prove valuable down the road if you choose to pursue legal action.

Contact a Reno Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer. Once you suspect that your loved one may have experienced nursing home abuse or negligence, you should immediately contact a nursing home negligence attorney. An attorney can guide you and help you protect the safety and legal rights of your loved one against the parties potentially responsible for your loved one’s injuries. With the help of your attorney, you can take action to protect your loved one, initiate a claim for damages against the appropriate party, and file a lawsuit if necessary.

What Are Common Injuries That Result From Nursing Home Negligence?

Nursing home negligence can cause serious injuries that can put the overall wellbeing of your loved one and even their life at risk. Abused individuals have a higher chance of health complications that can significantly affect an elderly individual’s quality of life and longevity. Injuries that can occur due to nursing home neglect may prove apparent, but many can require further investigation into the health and mental or emotional wellbeing of your loved one.

Misfortunes can occur while in the care of a nursing home, and not all injuries stem from overt negligence or abuse. However, when injuries reoccur, do not properly heal, or are concealed, these all constitute indications that something has gone wrong in the care of your loved one.

Examples of nursing home injuries can include:

  • Bedsores
  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Internal bleeding or injury to organs

What Risks and Complications Can a Victim of Reno Nursing Home Negligence Suffer?

Oftentimes, sustaining injuries due to nursing home negligence only constitutes the beginning of a victim’s suffering. One of the most serious dangers that a victim of nursing home negligence may face includes the aftermath, which can result in life-threatening complications and a deterioration of their physical, mental, and emotional health.

Common complications of nursing home injuries can include:

  • Infections
  • Loss of independence
  • Withdrawal from society
  • Depression
  • Development of anxiety and fear

When Can You Sue a Nursing Home for Negligence in Reno?

If your loved one has suffered injuries or died while living in a nursing home, and you believe that your loved one’s death or injuries could have been prevented, you may pursue a nursing home negligence case. Nursing home abuse or negligence cases often prove complicated and may require in-depth knowledge and experience to protect the rights of your loved ones and hold the parties responsible accountable for their actions.

You don’t have unlimited time to act. Under Nevada law, you must file a legal action against a defendant within the statute of limitations to allow you to seek recovery for damages related to nursing home negligence. In Nevada, you have two years from the date the injury or wrongful death occurred to initiate a lawsuit against the at-fault party. If you fail to file by this date, the court will likely bar you from seeking compensation for the losses and damages in your case.

The moment that you suspect your loved one’s injuries or death stemmed from nursing home negligence or abuse, you should contact a Reno nursing home lawyer at Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers to evaluate your case and to discuss the best course of action against the parties responsible. We offer free initial case evaluations, during which you can discuss with us the details of your loved one’s experience, ask questions about your family’s legal options, and determine your best course of action.

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 Phone:775-600-6000

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