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Nursing home neglect: how to recognize it and what to do about it

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  A spate of recent lawsuits filed against nursing homes and skilled care facilities on behalf of patients or their estates has focused attention on the all too often hidden issue of nursing home abuse and neglect.  In Alabama, the estate of Ella Kerdus is suing Diversicare Windsor House, LLC, for wrongful death.  The lawsuit claims that the 78 year old was not properly monitored and cared for while being treated with blood thinners for a blood clot.  The allegation is that the lack of monitoring the patient's blood levels led to massive internal bleeding, which caused her death.

    At the heart of the Alabama lawsuit is whether the facility's employees "violated the standard of skill, care and diligence required of a nursing home and its staff in the national medical community."  Your Denver Elder Care Attorney explains that negligence, such as not noticing Kerdus' deteriorating condition, combined with omissions such as a failure to follow through with regular blood level checks, contributed to the overall violation of the applicable standard of care.  The estate is seeking unspecified damages.

    A San Antonio, Texas lawsuit is also about a violation of the applicable standard of care at a nursing home, but the allegations state understaffing and inadequate supervision and oversight as the crucial reasons for why Parklane West Healthcare Center's treatment of three former patients fell below acceptable standards of care.Your Denver Elder Care Attorney emphasizes that understaffing is one of the most common reasons that nursing home patients suffer neglect and abuse.  Facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid must comply with applicable federal and state regulations regarding patient/staff ratio, staff time with each patient, nutrition, hygiene, etc. Often, a facility must do more than is required by the federal and state regulations in order to provide its patients with the appropriate standard of care; the regulations define the minimum level of care.  Therefore, violations of the regulations support causes of action in negligence and negligence per se.

    If you have a friend or loved one in a nursing home or skilled care facility, it is important to be vigilant about possible abuse and neglect.  Some of the most common signs are: bed sores, bad hygiene, dehydration, malnutrition, restraint marks, and failing to give the patient medical treatment or giving improper medical treatment.  A more subtle example of neglect or abuse is denying a mentally stable patient access to their medical records and discussion with their doctor.  Denying access to religious services (e.g. a visiting priest) or participation in activities on site are also forms of neglect or abuse.  If you notice any of the above, you can take the course of action most appropriate for your situation.  Depending on the severity of the neglect, you can begin by talking with the head administrator of the facility.  If that does not resolve the issue, or if the severity of the neglect or abuse necessitates going outside of the facility for answers, you can report neglect and abuse to the National Center on Elder Abuse, your local Adult Protection Services, long-term Ombudsman program, and of course, local law enforcement.

     You may also contact your Denver Elder Care Attorney to discuss potential legal remedies you may have if a friend or loved one has been the victim of neglect or abuse at a nursing home or skilled care facility. Contact Jordan Levine today to discuss the specifics of your case. 

April 14th, 2014 | Posted by Levine Law, on Nursing Home Abuse

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