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. In 2001, a Committee of United States Representatives in Congress found that one in three U.S. nursing homes had been cited for abuse over a two-year period.
Our cases have revealed abuses including:
- Medication errors
- Failure to plan for fall protection
- Intentional physical abuse
- Failure to provide medical care
- Sexual assault
- Failure to follow safety procedures
Physical abuse sometimes involves situations where a nursing home resident is intentionally harmed by a staff member or another resident. 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. Abuse also encompasses failure to properly supervise residents or failure to protect residents from other violent or sexually predatory residents.
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 your loved one is a victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, it is important to record all suspicious incidents. Your record should include:
- The date of the incident
- Name of the person(s) involved
- Names and addresses of all witnesses
- Description of harm done
- Nursing home response
Also, you should notify the resident’s primary care physician and if immediate care is needed, the resident should be taken to the closest 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.
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.
If You Suspect Abuse or Neglect
If you suspect someone is suffering 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 handling nursing home abuse and neglect cases.