November 2017 was not a good news month for Georgia nursing homes!
One disturbing video captured in 2014 and recently released, was seen nationwide. It showed an 89-year-old World War II veteran calling for help from his Atlanta nursing home bed. His pleas of, “Help me…can’t breathe…” were met with laughter by two nurses as they fiddled with his bedside oxygen machine, unable to get it to function.
Contrary to one nurse’s testimony, the video clearly shows that no measures were taken to help the man and the nurses essentially just watched him die. The nursing home settled the family’s wrongful death lawsuit, but the terms of the settlement remain secret. The two nurses involved lost their nursing licenses.
Secondly, an Albany nursing home is currently under investigation for abuse by two of its employees, Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), who have been suspended. The CNAs were caught on video yelling and swearing at a resident and handling her roughly enough to cause her to cry out. The family installed the surveillance camera after they became suspicious that abuse was occurring.
Third, Elaine Wilson, public advocate for elderly nursing home residents, who was interviewed for a news article, stated that often times, residents themselves are afraid to report abuse. She suggests family members should report anytime they think “something is off with their loved one.”
Not All Abuse Cases Reported
The WALB article reports that, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), for every case of elder abuse that is reported, there are another 23 incidents that are not reported. According to the National Center for Elder Abuse (NCEA), 2,000 nursing home residents were surveyed and 44 percent reported they had been abused. A full 95 percent reported they had been neglected.
More than 50 percent of surveyed nursing home staff actually admitted to mistreating older patients in their care during the year previous to the survey. This involved both physical violence, mental abuse and neglect.
Signs Indicating Your Loved One Has Been Abused or Neglected
It is not easy to determine if your loved one has been abused or neglected. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has published a Guidebook to help family members who are tasked with choosing a nursing home facility for their loved ones. Even so, no matter how carefully a home is selected, and no matter how wonderful and caring the staff may seem, vulnerable elderly patients may still be subject to abuse and neglect.
Signs your loved one has been abused or neglected include:
- Crying or withdrawing when you visit.
- Falling with an unusual explanation.
- Unexplained injuries like bruises, burns, cuts, even broken bones.
- Unexpected death.
Take seriously any complaints about abuse or neglect. If you suspect abuse or neglect, report it to your ombudsman. You also may want to consult with attorneys experienced in nursing home neglect and abuse cases.
Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Lawsuits
If your loved one has suffered abuse or neglect while residing in a nursing home, or died due to that neglect, you may bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the company and its workers. Some grounds for suing the nursing home include it was negligent in one or more of the following areas:
- It failed to keep the premises safe.
- It negligently hired personnel who engaged in abuse and neglect.
- It failed to properly train and supervise employees.
- It failed to provide adequate medical treatment.
- It failed to maintain a safe and clean environment.
The same elements of negligence apply to nursing home abuse. You must prove:
- The company had a duty of care to the injured party;
- The company breached or violated that duty of care;
- The injury or death was caused by the breach of the duty of care; and
- The economic value of the medical bills, the injury itself, and the value of life itself.
The abused or neglected nursing home resident may be reluctant to tell what happened out of fear of retribution. Sometimes, the resident is dead. When there is no video, it is sometimes difficult to prove these cases.
If you believe your loved one was injured due to neglect or abuse in the nursing home, or died as the result of that mistreatment, our nursing home and elder abuse attorneys have the experience and commitment you need on your side as you fight this battle on behalf of your family member.
The law places a strict time limit on how long you have to file your claim after the abuse took place. Do not wait. Contact us as soon as you suspect your loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect.