When a loved one is no longer able to care for him or herself, families must make the difficult decision whether or not to move them into a nursing home or assisted living facility. Placing a family member into the care of strangers requires an extraordinary amount of trust that the staff will fulfill their obligation to keep your loved one safe and healthy. At The Corson & Johnson Law Firm, we are dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities and making sure that nursing home facilities operate ethically and legally.
Nursing Home Neglect is Widespread
Unfortunately, neglect and abuse of nursing home residents is all too common. One national study found that one in every three U.S. nursing homes had been cited for abuse over a two-year period.
Our cases have revealed local abuses including:
- Medication errors
- Failure to follow safety procedures
Physical abuse sometimes involves situations where a nursing home resident is intentionally harmed by a staff member. But nursing home abuse can also include neglect, such as pressure sore formation, failing to prevent falls, medication errors, failing to monitor dangerous residents, malnutrition, dehydration and infections. Neglect also includes the failure to properly supervise residents or the failure to protect from violent or sexually predatory residents.
If You Suspect Abuse or Neglect
If you suspect a friend or family member is suffering from abuse or neglect in a private home or residential care facility, you do not have to prove the abuse or neglect before seeking help. If you believe your loved one is being mistreated:
- Report any suspected abuse or neglect to the local branch office of the State of Oregon’s Senior and People with Disabilities Department. Your report will be confidential.
- An investigator should be assigned to the case and should interview all relevant witnesses. The expert opinion of an investigator is helpful to determine whether any wrongdoing occurred.
- Contact an attorney experienced in handling nursing home abuse and neglect cases.
Reporting Nursing Home Abuse
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, it is estimated that for every reported case of elder abuse or neglect, five more cases go unreported. If you suspect nursing home neglect or abuse, record:
- The date of the incident
- Name of the person(s) involved
- Names and addresses of all witnesses
- Description of harm done
- Nursing home response
It is important to record all suspicious incidents.
Also, you should notify the resident’s general care physician, or if immediate care is needed, take the resident to a hospital emergency room.
The nursing home should prepare an incident report regarding any injury or incident and include statements from witnesses, an evaluation of the cause of the injury or incident, and if appropriate, a plan to avoid such an injury or incident in the future.
New Oregon Laws
Fortunately for nursing home residents in Oregon, the laws governing their care have recently been updated. Theft, forgery, extortion and identity theft against persons over 65 years old are easily hidden and the elderly victim may not realize that a crime has been committed. The new law expands the statute of limitations for these felony crimes from 3 to 6 years, allowing the elderly and their loved ones more time to identify theft and hold the responsible party accountable.