Negligence is failure to use reasonable care that results to damage or injury to another. When committed in a nursing home, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines it as “failure by a caregiver or other responsible person to protect an elder from harm, or the failure to meet needs for essential medical care, nutrition, hydration, hygiene, clothing, basic activities of daily living or shelter, which results in a serious risk of compromised health and safety.”
When acts of abuse or negligence committed in a nursing homes result to patient harm, the injured or his/her family can pursue legal action to hold legally responsible the person who committed the abuse or negligent act. Other than the abuser, the injured may also be able to pursue legal action against the owner or operator of the facility, and probably even the state Health Board, which has failed in its job in ensuring that the facility is free from any form of violation of the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, which mandates:
- The provision of services and activities that are gird towards the attainment or maintenance of the highest possible physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of the residents in accordance with a written plan of care.
- That residents should be free from corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion and all forms of abuses, including, but not limited to, verbal, physical, mental abuse, and sexual abuse.
The most common types of nursing home neglect include:
- Lack of proper care;
- Failure to properly manage medication;
- Failure to maintain adequate health and safety policies, and keep the premises reasonably safe and free of hazards; and,
- Delayed treatment of residents who fall or injure themselves.
These acts are most rampant and widespread in facilities that are understaffed and where there is negligent hiring of employees (this specific employer negligence often results to individuals with records of abuse getting hired as nursing aides or registered/licensed nurses – often the very persons guilty of unjust and cruel acts of negligence against defenseless patients and residents).
One of the worst consequences of nursing home neglect is the development of bedsores (also called pressure sores or pressure ulcers), which are skin lesions resulting from prolonged pressure applied to the skin. This type of wound is most common among patients confined in beds or wheelchairs – specifically those who are never repositioned and properly cared for by nursing aides or nurses.
Bedsores can worsen, become infected and cause death. The recent years, U.S. courts have seen an alarming increase in cases filed due to severe cases of bedsores causing patients severe pains and suffering or resulting to wrongful death. The family of a patient who has suffered awful pains due to skin wounds that have developed as a result of neglect should consult a bedsores lawyer, who can help and advise them if their case is worth pursuing legally.