Nursing Home Abuse a Continuing and Difficult ProblemOct 31, 2016
The Nursing Home neglect, abuse, or mistreatment of a resident or temporary patient can result in serious injury or pain, and in some instances, death.
The National Center on elder Abuse estimates that one nursing home patient in 20 has been the victim of negligence or injury. The center reported that 57 percent of nurse's aides working in long-term care facilities have admitted to witnessing-some even participating in-acts of abuse and neglect of elderly residents.
Nursing home abuse and neglect can take many forms. Some patients receive the wrong medicine or do not get necessary medications on the appropriate schedule. Staff members can fail to conduct routine checks on patients or they ignore alarms or signals that a resident needs assistance. In some facilities, residents are given unnecessary sedating or antipsychotic drugs to make the residents easier for staff members to deal with.
Residents sometimes do not get the assistance they need with daily activities like eating, bathing, dressing, and toilet use. Incapacitated individuals sometimes suffer neglect-they and are left for hours and hours in the same position, leading to painful bed sores. Some residents are handled roughly by staff, or are taunted or physically or sexually abused. Residents suffer broken bones and head injuries from falls. This is a particular concern for residents who are difficult or uncooperative or for those who have dementia or mental disabilities that make it difficult for them to communicate effectively. Recently, there have been instances of nursing home staff members recording patients' intimate or embarrassing moments and posting videos on social media.
Residents and family members are often reluctant to complain about mistreatment for fear of staff retaliation. People with dementia often cannot accurately remember or describe mistreatment, or their complaints are not believed because of their mental capacity. In some instances, families have resorted to using a hidden camera in their loved one's room to document abuse.
In September 2016, the federal government moved to ban forced arbitration of claims, giving nursing home abuse victims and their families the right to file a lawsuit against long-term care facilities. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency under Health and Human Services (HHS) that controls more than $1 trillion in Medicare and Medicaid funding, issued a rule on September 28, 2016 that prevents nursing homes that receive federal funds from forcing families to sign a contract with an arbitration clause before being a resident is admitted.
The New York Times reports that many long-term care facilities have used arbitration clauses to force residents and families to handle abuse, neglect, harassment, and even wrongful death claims through arbitration. The facilities claim arbitration is a faster and less costly way to handle disputes, but arbitration proceedings are confidential and residents to do have the right to appeal. The new federal rule gives residents of long-term care facilities and their families the right to be heard in court.
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