NURSING HOME ABUSE
If you have a loved one in a nursing home, the potential that abuse or neglect could occur is horrifying. Nursing home abuse is something that should never happen. Unfortunately, it is something that happens far too often. The Parrish Law Firm has experience representing nursing home residents and their families in personal injury and wrongful death actions arising out of abuse, neglect, and malpractice at nursing home facilities throughout Georgia.
NURSING HOMES MUST FOLLOW FEDERAL AND STATE LAW
Nursing homes operating in Georgia must follow Georgia law, including Georgia’s Bill of Rights for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities, O.C.G.A. § 31-8-100 et seq. All nursing homes that receive either Medicare or Medicaid funds must also comply with the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act, which is more frequently referred to as the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1395 et seq.; 42 C.F.R. § 483.10 et seq. These federal and state laws set minimum standards for quality of care and quality of life at nursing homes. The Nursing Home Reform Amendments of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 were implemented through federal regulations, which require nursing homes to provide residents rights including the following:
- The right to a dignified self-existence
- Self determination
- Quality of life
- Comprehensive and accurate assessments
- Quality of care
There are many forms of neglect and abuse that occur at nursing homes. The following are some examples of neglect and injuries that may result from neglect in nursing homes
- Bed Sores (also known as Pressure Injuries, Pressure Ulcers, or Pressure Sores).
- Preventable falls
- Unnecessary administration of medications to sedate (restrain) the resident
- Failure to give mediations that have been ordered
- Physical assault by staff, including sexual assault
- Hypoxia (from oxygen deprivation) as a result of clogged breathing tubes
- Malnutrition or improper nutrition
- Failure to follow nutrition plans
- Failure to follow patient care plans
- Failure to revise patient care plans
- Urinary tract infections (UTI’s)
BEDSORES (PRESSURE INJURY, PRESSURE ULCERS, PRESSURE SORES)
- Bedsores (also known as pressure injury or pressure sores) are a common result of improper care and neglect at nursing homes. Understaffed nursing homes may neglect bedridden patients, resulting in bedsores. After bedsores develop from neglect, the neglect may continue in the form of inadequate care for the bedsores. Serious complications, including sepsis leading to death, may result. Nursing homes may resist transferring patients to the hospital so they can continue to bill the patient for residence at the nursing home.
- Patients who are bedridden need proper care that includes repositioning and other measures to prevent skin breakdown. In addition to frequently repositioning the patient, nursing homes should use specialized mattresses and take other measures to prevent bedsores.
- Skin must be kept moist. Further, nursing home residents must be adequately hydrated and provided with proper nutrition to promote skin health.
- Pressure relief must be provided for the patient’s heels
- Incontinence must be properly addressed if it is present
- Patients need to be continuously monitored for any signs of skin breakdown. Bedsores must be treated immediately after they develop. Failure to detect bed sores and treat them immediately is another form of neglect.
Federal law, under the OBRA Nursing Home Reform Amendments, provides that nursing homes must ensure that: (1) A resident receives care, consistent with professional standards of practice, to prevent pressure ulcers and does not develop pressure ulcers unless the individual’s clinical condition demonstrates that they were unavoidable; and (ii) A resident with pressure ulcers receives necessary treatment and services, consistent with professional standards of practice, to promote healing, prevent infection and prevent new ulcers from developing. 42 C.F.R. § 483.25(b)(i)-(ii).
The National Pressure Injury Advisory Panel stages pressure injury from Stage I though Stage IV.
If proper preventive measures are not followed, treatment for bed sores may include extensive surgery and wound debridement, IV antibiotics, and other measures. Sometimes patients die from infection as a result of bedsores.
Preventable falls are a leading cause of death and serious injury in nursing homes. The elderly are susceptible to both falls and serious injury and death from falls. For this reason, nursing homes must ensure that proper fall precautions are followed based on and individual resident’s needs. Appropriate fall precautions may include mats around the bed, bed alarms, and an appropriate toileting schedule so patients at risk for falls do not need to get out of bed in the middle of night.
IMPROPER TRACHEOSTOMY CARE
Trach tubes require proper management to ensure that the patient continues to receive an adequate oxygen supply. Tracheostomy tubes must be suctioned properly by trained professionals. Nursing homes may falsely claim that they have personnel experienced and trained in proper trach care. The Parrish law Firm has encountered this in past cases against nursing homes. Suctioning a trach tube requires a proper assessment, managing oxygen, the patient’s position, using the proper insertion distance, and evaluation to ensure that the suctioning is adequate. Further, the nursing staff who perform the suctioning must be prepared in case an emergency is encountered.
If a family member or loved one has been abused or neglected at a nursing home or skilled nursing facility, please contact The Parrish Law Firm at 404-891-0141 for a free, no obligation consultation. There is no fee unless and until there is a recovery.