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Improperly Operated Nursing Homes Pose a Risk of Harm to Patients

Improperly Operated Nursing Homes Pose A Risk Of Harm To Patients

Nursing home patients can be subjected to physical abuse by staff which can result in patients sustaining severe bruising and fractures.

Earlier this year, the Greenville News reported that Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell warned South Carolina lawmakers that a "gray tsunami" could cause a budget crisis and harm this state's senior citizens. With the senior population of this state expected to double over the next 15 years, McConnell advised that plans needed to be developed to help seniors live independently in their own homes. According to McConnell, enabling seniors to live at home, in addition to saving money on nursing home care paid for by Medicaid, would improve seniors' overall quality of life. A subsequent article in the Greenville News reflects that South Carolina may have a ways to go in taking good care of its seniors given that a new national study ranked South Carolina 34th "in meeting the long-term care needs of its older citizens."

Some elderly seniors will not be able to live at home and will require nursing home care. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect is an all-too-common occurrence in care facilities. The nonprofit advocacy group Families for Better Care observes that its review of South Carolina nursing homes shows that the state failed to achieve an above-average grade in any statistical measure. Moreover, South Carolina had a high percentage of facilities that were cited for severe deficiencies.

The National Center for Biotechnological Information reports that neglect and abuse are the most common adverse occurrences for patients in nursing homes. Common acts of neglect are: (1) not providing dental care; (2) allowing bedsores to develop; (3) ignoring bedridden patients; (4) not treating wounds; and (5) allowing patients to become malnourished or dehydrated. Neglect often results from inadequate resident monitoring, substandard treatment and failing to provide patients with necessary treatments.

Physical abuse generally tends to involve hitting, slapping or pushing patients. Acts of physical abuse are documented to cause injuries ranging from bruising to fractures. Physical abuse can also cause problems such as increased bone or joint problems, depression and anxiety, chronic pain, high blood pressure, and heart problems. All of these conditions cause significant injury to elderly nursing home patients.

According to the authors of a University of South Carolina study on nursing homes, the most commonly reported problem in nursing homes is physical abuse. It is suspected that such abuse often goes unreported. Stunningly, the data indicates that about half of nursing home residents report some form of abuse or rough handling. One-third of all patients polled said that they personally witnessed the abuse of others. The authors of the USC study conclude that mistreatment often results from thoughtlessness, heavy workloads of nursing home staff and a lack of proper staff training.

Making Good Choices

The National Institute on Aging suggests that if you have a loved one whom you need to place in a nursing home, plan to visit each facility that you have an interest in. During your visit, meet with both the nursing home administrator and the nursing director. While at the nursing home, look for the following:

  • Medicare and Medicaid certification
  • Good handicap access
  • Residents who look well cared for
  • Warm interaction between patients and staff
Recovering for Injuries

If you have a loved one in a nursing home who has suffered injury due to neglect or abuse, you should contact a South Carolina attorney who has experience in handling nursing home cases. An attorney can advise you on how to proceed to hold to account those responsible for negligently or intentionally inflicting injuries upon your loved one.

Keywords: nursing home, abuse, neglect, bedsores, malnourish