As a Cleveland, Ohio nursing home abuse lawyer, I can share with you that elder abuse and neglect are all too common in our state. The root cause of virtually all elder neglect and abuse is understaffing and/or poorly trained staff. The reason for this problem is simple: greed. Large for-profit corporations run many of the long-term care, rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities in the United States. In an effort to maximize profits, these corporations routinely fail to meet elderly patients’ needs. When your loved one suffers personal injury or wrongful death as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, please call us for advice.
Nursing home negligence cases are similar to hospital negligence and medical malpractice cases, but there are some important differences. In all healthcare negligence cases, there are three core elements that have to be proven to prevail in a lawsuit: (1) negligence; (2) proximate cause; and (3) damages. Nursing home negligence is established by proving that one or more providers failed to comply with accepted standards of nursing home care. Examples would include failure to prevent pressure sores (also known as decubitus ulcers), failure to timely seek treatment when a medical emergency arises, failure to undertake appropriate fall precautions in patients who are at high risk for a fall, and medication errors. Obviously, any abuse, such as striking, verbally assaulting, pinching, pushing or otherwise physically or mentally punishing a resident, is far below any standard of human decency.
To prove “proximate cause,” a nursing home abuse lawyer must ask whether the injury or death was preventable with proper care. For example, when a post-surgery patient who is undergoing rehabilitation develops an infection, a negligent delay in diagnosis and treatment can lead to the development of sepsis, septic shock, and death. If timely treatment with antibiotics would have prevented the progression of the infection, proximate cause is established.
Finally, your Cleveland, Ohio nursing home abuse lawyer must establish the harms and losses that were caused by the nursing home’s abuse, neglect or negligence. Lawyers refer to harms and losses as “damages.” Some damages are obvious, such as personal injuries sustained from a fall like a fracture or head injury resulting in hemorrhage. All of the medical costs associated with treatment of these injuries are recoverable, as is the pain, suffering and mental anguish endured by the injury victim. Other damages are not as obvious. Using the example of a fall, various medical studies have established that many elderly patients who sustain significant injuries from falling will pass away during the six-month period following the fall. It is important to obtain qualified medical expert testimony to determine whether a resident’s fall was a substantial contributing factor in their subsequent death.
There are also some important differences between nursing home negligence cases and hospital negligence or medical malpractice cases. For example, the State of Ohio has enacted statutes and regulations pertaining to the operation of nursing homes and residential care facilities. These laws dictate time limits for filing a lawsuit arising out of nursing home abuse or neglect, set standards of care for long-term care facilities, and enumerate what damages are recoverable. In every lawsuit against a nursing home, punitive damages are a consideration. Punitive damages are to be awarded by a jury in addition to compensatory damages to punish a nursing home that engages in egregious misconduct. For example, when a nursing home fraudulently misrepresents that it provides specialized care to residents with dementia in a dedicated Alzheimer’s unit, but in reality, the unit is frequently understaffed or staffed by the newest and least qualified employees, punitive damages may be recoverable.
If you have questions for a Cleveland, Ohio nursing home abuse lawyer, please give us a call. We are experienced, qualified and caring. Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co., L.P.A. can answer all of your questions.
Elder Abuse vs. Neglect
Over 3.2 million Americans currently reside in nursing homes. Many of these residents require constant and trustworthy care to maintain their previous quality of life as their age increases and health declines. If you currently have a loved one in one of the 17,000 nursing homes across the country, you want to ensure they are receiving safe and secure care. Yet, every day, more stories arise of elder abuse, financial exploitation, psychological torment and negligence within the nursing home halls. If you believe your loved one has been abused or neglected, there are steps you can take to keep them protected. First, you need to determine if the actions against your loved one are qualified as abuse or neglect. A nursing home abuse lawyer in Cleveland, OH can help.
The Center for Disease Control places nursing home abuse in the following categories:
- Emotional abuse
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse
Unfortunately, many victims of nursing home abuse are too frightened to report the crimes as they fear vindication from the abuser. Sometimes the signs of physical abuse can be visualized as many violent actions can cause bruising or lacerations. However, symptoms of other kinds of abuse are harder to prove. Your loved one may simply withdraw from affection or questions, asking to be left alone as much as possible. If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from elder abuse, ask tons of gentle questions, check all financial records and encourage them to open up to you. Then contact a Cleveland, OH nursing home abuse lawyer.
Nursing home negligence is legally defined as the failure of the facility or staff members in providing basic rights and necessities. These rights were outlined in the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act and require nursing home residents the following:
- Freedom from negligence and abuse
- Communication without fear of retaliation
- Knowledge of care and medications
- Advance notice of any medication or treatment changes
- Dignity and self-determination
If a nursing home, or the staff, fails to comply with these legal rights, they could be subject to civil or criminal consequences, depending on the severity of the action. Usually, in cases of nursing home neglect, the organization will receive civil penalties such as fines, removal of management or denial of Medicaid payments. Perpetrators of elder abuse, on the other hand, could receive up to seven years in prison for their crimes.
Contact a Cleveland, OH Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
In many cases, nursing home abuse and negligence continues because the victims are too afraid to report the crimes. If you observe any potential signs of abuse or neglect, immediately intervene and speak to the nursing home manager or other high-level employees. Then reach out to a nursing home abuse lawyer Cleveland, OH families trust who can help ensure your loved one is receiving the care they deserve. Call Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co., L.P.A. today.