You trusted the nursing home with one of the people you love most. But instead of helping, the nursing home hurt or injured your loved one. Get help now.
You need a lawyer tough enough to take on the nursing home. Lee Wallace has taken on some of the biggest companies in America, and won. A 25-year legal veteran who has had legal matters in approximately 20 states, she has the experienceto help. Respected by her peers, Lee Wallace has been voted a Georgia SuperLawyer every year since the poll began. In 2009, she was named one of Georgia’s Top 100 Lawyers. She was first in the class at Vanderbilt University and is a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School.
To learn more about just how widespread nursing home negligence and abuse has become, read on. And if you are trying to figure out what nursing home you need to pick next, take a look at our great resources, below.
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NURSING HOME NEGLIGENCE IS WIDESPREAD
When your parents need more care than you can provide at home, you put your faith in the medical professionals at a nursing home. But according to Consumer Reports and a number of government-funded studies, our parents may not be as safe as we think: nursing home negligence and errors are widespread.
If you believe your parents or family members have been injured in a nursing home by nursing home negligence, nursing home elder abuse, a nursing home fall, a fracture occurring in the nursing home, a nursing home medication error, or a nursing home’s inattention to urgent issues like pressure sores,contact a reputable nursing home negligence and abuse lawyer immediately.
Nursing homes are entrusted with some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Yet studies show that a shocking number of nursing homes are not providing good or even acceptable care to their residents.
Consumer Reports has studied nursing homes for the last five years. It says that although the states are supposed to fine nursing homes for violations of health and safety regulations, state enforcement is generally minimal. Often the state enforcement agency is understaffed, and does not have enough funding to defend its fines and decisions if the nursing home takes the issue to court. Consumer Reports describes one horrific incident, in which “a nurse allegedly put a pillow over a resident’s face, said, “I’m going to smother you,” and then walked out of the room laughing after the patient pushed it off.” The state collected only $600 in fines. Read the Consumer Reports article.
DRUG AND PHARMACEUTICAL ERRORS
According to a 2000 study, nursing homes often make errors in administering drugs, and more than half of the errors (51%) were entirely preventable. The study, “Incidence and Preventability of Adverse Drug Events in the Nursing Home Setting,” was the largest ever of its kind, and was funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), which is a part of the National Institute of Health (NIH).
According to a press release put out by the University of Massachusetts, which helped conduct the study, an average-sized U.S. nursing home (106 beds) will have “at least 24 adverse drug events and eight “near misses” per year.” Extrapolating from those findings, the University of Massachusetts said that every year there are 350,000 adverse drug events among the 1.5 million U.S. nursing home residents. Put in starker terms, every year a nursing home will make a mistake on administering drugs, a mistake so big that it will lead to an adverse reaction, 1 time for every 4.3 residents. You can read about the study at the National Institute of Health’s website.
A study by the state of North Carolina found very similar numbers. The state concluded that its nursing homes made 22.4 medication errors per 100 beds, in a single year period. Some nursing homes made more than 50 errors per 100 beds.
Many nursing homes are chronically understaffed. A study by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) found that if a nursing home provided a daily average of 2.8 hours of care from nurse aides and 1.3 hours from licensed nurses, its residents were less likely to have poor outcomes. But the CMS never adopted minimum staffing requirements, and most homes have significantly fewer hours of care per patient. Read more at PubMed.
HOW TO PROVE A NURSING HOME NEGLIGENCE CASE
In order to prove a nursing home negligence case, your lawyer will need to be able to show:
- Liability: The patient received poor (or no) medical care at the nursing home – When the poor care or lack of care in a nursing home results in a bad or surprising consequence, the nursing home may be liable. Under the law, the nursing home facility is liable when the care fell below “that degree of care and skill ordinarily employed by the profession generally under similar conditions and like surrounding circumstances” (Georgia definition).
- Damages: A death or injury occurred – If someone in your family died or was seriously injured as a result of poor medical care in a nursing home, you should consult a lawyer.
- Causation: The poor medical care at the nursing home caused the death or injury.
People who bring suits against a nursing home have to prove that the bad care the patient got caused the bad consequences. Sometimes the link is easy to prove. For example, a nursing home resident who is given the wrong medication may have an obvious, predictable reaction to it.
HOW DO I PROTECT MY LOVED ONE FROM A MEDICAL MISTAKE?
For information on how to protect a loved one or yourself from medical mistakes, see this website as well as this one.
HOW DO I PICK A GOOD HOSPITAL OR NURSING HOME?
To get free hospital ratings, and to purchase quality reports on hospitals and nursing homes, see HealthGrades.com.
See Medicare’s “Nursing Home Compare”, with information about the past performance of nursing homes around the country.
For a broad and useful array of information about selecting a nursing home, see AngelFire Nursing Home.
For other ratings of nursing homes and home health agencies, see (some of these require fees):
MemberoftheFamily.net (some free information, some for a fee)
Aging Parents and Elder Care (links to pages that compare nursing homes)
Survey results on hospitals LeapFrogGroup