A loss of independence can feel like the ultimate indignation to thrust upon our elderly family members. But sometimes we have no choice but to move them into a skilled nursing facility. When we do, they should never experience abuse once they take up residence.
There are 288 certified Medicare and Medicaid skilled nursing facilities in Virginia. Several of them are located right here in Petersburg. Each of them has a legal obligation to meet (and preferably exceed) minimum standards of care. But in June 2019 The Virginia Pilot reported inspections at some Virginia nursing homes revealed serious failures to meet standards of patient medical care and to protect residents from abuse and neglect.
It is unacceptable for any nursing facility to fall below minimum standards of care. And no one should have to worry about a loved one falling victim to physical, mental, and sexual abuse in a residential care setting. When the professionals we trust to ensure our loved ones’ well-being instead cause harm, the law can hold them to account.
If you have concerns for the safety of a loved one residing in a Petersburg, Virginia nursing home, contact the Petersburg nursing home abuse attorneys at Emroch & Kilduff at (804) 862-3600 to learn how we can help.
The Seven Categories and Numerous Signs of Nursing Home Abuse
The National Center on Elder Abuse recognizes seven categories of abuse that can befall nursing home residents:
- Physical abuse;
- Sexual abuse;
- Emotional/psychological abuse;
- Financial abuse; and
Virtually every day, the team at Emroch & Kilduff hears allegations of abuse or neglect in Virginia nursing homes. Family members are usually the first to suspect abusive behavior, but anyone with a friend or loved one in a Petersburg nursing facility should be on the lookout for telltale signs of harm to a resident:
- Lack of cleanliness or personal hygiene;
- Improper clothing or bedding for conditions;
- Bruising indicative of physical restraint or abuse;
- Emotional instability/lability;
- Complaining about treatment by staff or other residents;
- New, preventable medical complications;
- Signs of malnutrition or dehydration; and
- Signs of improper medication.
If you spot any of these signs, or if you have a gut feeling that something isn’t quite right with your loved one’s living conditions, then do not hesitate to speak up to staff or to contact an attorney to help raise and evaluate your concerns.
A Troubling Report on Nursing Home Abuse
National statistics suggest nursing home abuse is far more prevalent than reporting might suggest. In June 2019 The U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services Office Of Inspector General reported that in the calendar year 2016, twenty percent of the 37,607 high-risk hospital ER claims for 34,820 Medicare beneficiaries residing in skilled nursing facilities likely resulted from abuse or neglect.
The report went on to disclose, “Nation-wide there were 6,608 high-risk hospital ER Medicare claims associated with incidents of potential abuse or neglect of Medicare beneficiaries residing in SNFs that were not reported to the Survey Agencies during the calendar year 2016.”
In a statement to CNN, the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services reported that “[d]uring our audits, we found numerous cases in which mandatory reporters failed to comply with laws designed to protect beneficiaries. We recommend that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services use available data to better defend against the potential abuse and neglect of beneficiaries.”
Virginia Law Gives Residents Rights
- Access to the results of state surveys and inspections;
- Participate in the patient’s care plan, and to refuse to participate in experimental research;
- Be discharged only for medical reasons;
- Express concerns and recommend changes within a facility;
- Freedom from abuse and neglect;
- Freedom from physical or chemical restraints (unless medically indicated to prevent harm to self or others);
- Confidential treatment;
- Refuse the release of medical records, except as required by law;
- Privacy; and
- Treatment delivered with respect and dignity.
Since 1970 the personal injury attorneys at Emroch & Kilduff have helped families concerned about victims of nursing home abuse in Petersburg. If you feel your loved one’s guaranteed rights have been violated, stop by our office located at 2557 South Crater Road, Petersburg.
Features of a High-Quality Nursing Facility
Although living in a skilled nursing facility is never quite like having all the comforts of home, indicators of a high-quality facility can include:
- A variety of social, recreational and religious activities
- Transportation to and participation in community activities
- Space for the resident to entertain visitors
- Transportation to and from personal physician’s appointments
- Sufficient number of Certified Nursing Assistants are available during each shift
- The availability of in-house physical, and occupational therapy
- A registered dietitian on staff
Conditions Leading to Nursing Home Legal and Regulatory Liability
Any of the following deficits in the operation of a nursing facility can result in regulatory sanctions, including fines and revocation of an operating license. If they lead to patient harm, then these acts can also merit criminal sanctions, and create legal liability to pay damages to the victimized resident.
- Failure to conduct background investigations or to ensure proper licensing of employees and new hires;
- Failure to supervise staff members who interact with residents and deliver care;
- Failure to have adequate staff present at all hours;
- Failure to train employees in abuse prevention and reporting requirements; and
- Failure to address incidents of suspected abuse.
A Petersburg Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Can Help
Don’t wait for suspected problems to harm your loved one. The experienced nursing home abuse attorneys at Emroch & Kilduff can help you keep a nursing home resident safe, healthy, and free from abuse and neglect, and to hold nursing facilities accountable when they fail to deliver a minimum standard of care. Write to us today or call (804) 862-3600 now to learn more.