Nursing Homes: A Guidebook To Protect Against Abuse & Preserve Your Legal Rights

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1 Nursing Homes: A Guidebook To Protect Against Abuse & Preserve Your Legal Rights

2 Introduction The decision to enter a nursing facility is never easy. Ideally, nursing facilities provide a caring and safe environment. However, there are times when residents are physically and/or mentally injured by the nursing home staff s carelessness or intentional acts. Several factors have been shown to commonly contribute to patient neglect or abuse, including: understaffing, inadequate training, underqualified staff, overcrowding, and staff members with a history of violence. Unfortunately, injured residents are often reluctant or unable to report mistreatment. Patients may be embarrassed or scared. They may be prevented from disclosing abuse because of illness or being in a confused mental state. It is important for loved ones to know the signs of mistreatment and abuse and know the rights of nursing home residents. You can ensure a dignified and safe nursing home stay for you or your loved ones. This guidebook will inform you of the important healthcare and legal rights of nursing home residents. If you suspect nursing home mistreatment or abuse, it is important to act fast and contact an experienced nursing home lawyer. Ron Katter will work to safeguard you and your loved ones, stop the mistreatment and fight to uphold your legal rights.

3 Know Your Rights! The law protects a resident in a nursing home facility from any physical, mental, sexual or verbal abuse. Examples of abuse include, but are not limited to, striking, shaking, hitting, harmful verbal statements, inattentiveness, disciplinarian restraints, and/or isolation. Any act or failure to act that harms a resident may be considered nursing home abuse. The nursing home is supposed to provide a safe and secure living environment. Both U.S. and New York State laws protect people who live in nursing homes. Nursing homes must comply with certain federal and state regulations and laws, which detail the minimum standards of care that nursing facilities must provide their residents. In addition, New York has standards to safeguard nursing home residents from harm. Section 2803-c of New York State s Public Health Law states in part, every patient shall have the right to receive adequate and appropriate medical care, to be fully informed of his or her medical condition and proposed treatment unless medically contraindicated and to refuse medication and treatment after being fully informed of and understanding the consequence of such action. The failure to provide sufficient treatment and medical care allows you to sue the facility in New York for those violations. New York State Laws Provide Additional and Separate Rights to Nursing Home Residents. These include a right to: Privacy, including in their rooms, communications, medical treatment, visits, and meetings with family and resident groups. Proper safeguarding of property and money. Dignity and respect in a comfortable environment. Participation in activities and organizations of their choice. Freedom of choice and independent decision making. Quality of care and treatment without discrimination. Safeguards in admission transfer and discharge. A complaint procedure that is responsive and easy to use. Exercise their rights without fear of punishments. The law provides that a patient or resident who is injured as a result of a violation of the listed rights may be entitled to monetary payments for their pain and suffering and their attorneys fees. These legal rights guaranteed by New York State are in addition to and separate from the many other legal rights patients have to be free from harm or injury as a result of nursing home mistreatment or abuse.

4 Nursing home abuse and negligence can take many forms and have multiple consequences. Sadly, older adults who live in nursing homes often have difficulty communicating with others, especially those who are suffering from mentally debilitating diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer s disease. Since your loved one may not be able to clearly communicate current abuse, it can be difficult to determine whether or not injuries or changes in behavior are a result of abuse or simply a result of aging and their increased susceptibility to injury. However, if you know the warning signs of abuse and mistreatment, you can protect yourself or a loved one from wrongdoing Below are common warning signs of nursing home mistreatment or abuse: REDDENED OR BROKEN SKIN, RASHES OR SORES May be signs of bedsores (also called pressure sores or pressure ulcers). These often result from the nursing home staff s failure to keep the patient s skin dry and to regularly reposition bedridden or chair bound patients. UNEXPLAINED BROKEN BONES, HEAD INJURIES, OR BRUISIES May be due to falls. The nursing home must take all appropriate measures to prevent falls and to take corrective action if one occurs. UNEXPLAINED BRUISING, CUTS, OR SCRATCHES May be injuries caused by another patient or a staff member. BURNS May result from caregiver s failure to ensure that bath water or other substances that come into contact with the patient are too hot. SUDDEN WEIGHT LOSS OR DEHYDRATION May be signs of neglect or another significant health problem. These are not a normal part of the aging process. UNEXPLAINED PATIENT ABSENCES OR PATIENT GETTING LOST INSIDE OR OUTSIDE THE FACILITY May result from the caregiver s failure to supervise and monitor the patient and prevent risks of serious injury.

5 7 8 9 UNUSUAL SIDE EFFECTS OR HARMFUL REACTIONS TO MEDICATION May result from medication prescription errors, typically wrong medication or wrong dosage. SEPSIS OR INFECTION May result from nursing home staff s failure to prevent, identify, or treat an infection. ASPIRATION PNEUMONIA May arise from poor tracheostomy or PEG tube care or poor supervision during eating. This, in turn, may lead to pneumonia. Protect Your Legal Rights If you or a loved one has experienced or suspects nursing home abuse or mistreatment, you should immediately contact Ronald Katter, an experienced elder abuse attorney. Mr. Katter and his staff are here to help you or your loved ones in this critical time. They fully understand that your nursing home complaints must be investigated at once, in order to fully protect your rights, under the applicable laws and rules. As soon as their investigation begins, Mr. Katter s experienced staff will work hard to uphold you or your loved one s legal rights. Where appropriate, they will contact the nursing home and tell it to stop the harmful behavior, and/or refer the matter to the relevant healthcare or law enforcement agencies. They may also start a lawsuit to recover monetary payments for you or your loved one s pain and suffering and related damages. Phone: 866-LAW-HELP

6 61 Broadway, Suite 1105 New York, New York Tel. (212) LAW-HELP

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