As we get older, it can become more and more difficult to handle the daily tasks that life requires. When caring for oneself or a loved one becomes too much of a challenge, it is sometimes best to turn over the caretaking to experienced staff at a nursing home. While nursing home facilities are supposed to provide quality care for their patients, sometimes admission to a nursing home causes more harm than good. If you or a loved one has fallen victim to nursing home abuse, the Brod Law Firm can help.
What Constitutes Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing home abuse can materialize in different ways. Below are some of the more common and serious forms.
- Bedsores. A bedsore is an injury that is completely preventable if an adequate level of care is provided to a patient. The vast majority of bedsores arise out of situations of neglect in which a patient is left lying down in a bed for a great deal of time.
- Fall Injuries. If a patient is not provided an adequate level of care, he or she may have to resort to doing certain things on his or her own, such as showering or using the restroom. This can lead to falls that would not have happened if the nursing home staff had provided the care that a patient is entitled to.
- Physical Abuse. Unfortunately, patients in nursing homes are sometimes subjected to physical abuse by nursing home staff. Any form of physical abuse can cause a nursing home to be held liable for a patient's injuries.
- Sexual Abuse. This form of nursing home abuse occurs more often than one may think--the vulnerability of most nursing home patients makes them an easy target for sexual predators who prey upon these victims.
Rights of Residents in Pennsylvania Nursing Homes
By law, residents of nursing homes are entitled to specific rights and protections. Examples of rights afforded to nursing home residents include the right to:
- Be treated with respect and dignity;
- Choose your own schedule;
- Be informed about your medical conditions and what treatments are being administered;
- Manage your own finances or choose someone to do so for you;
- Privacy and the ability to maintain your personal belongings;
- Have an environment that provides assistance while allowing you to be as independent as possible; and
- Be free from abuse and neglect.
Responsibilities of Nursing Homes in Pennsylvania
In conjunction with the rights of nursing home patients, a nursing home facility itself must live up to various responsibilities toward its patients. These responsibilities include:
- Ensuring that medication and prescription drugs are only administered for treatment of illness rather than for punishment or to make staff lives more convenient;
- Complying with state and federal regulations pertaining to nursing home administration;
- Making sure that the facility only takes in as many patients as it can reasonably handle;
- Not subjecting residents to physical restraints, except under very limited circumstances; and
- Providing quality care to patients.
The responsibilities required by nursing homes are otherwise known as a "duty of care" to its residents. When a nursing home fails to provide an adequate level of care to residents, the facility may be held liable for any injuries that a patient sustains while living in the nursing home.
The Statute of Limitations -- What is It?
If you or someone you care about has suffered abuse in a nursing home, it's critical to speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible after the abuse occurred. Laws called "statutes of limitations" place limits on the amount of time one has to bring a lawsuit against a nursing home for abuse.
In Pennsylvania, a person has two years from when the injury was sustained to bring legal action against a nursing home. While this may sound like a long time, preparing for a successful nursing home abuse case takes a great deal of time and preparation. Once the statute of limitations has expired, it is extremely difficult--if not impossible--to seek the justice you deserve.
What to Do Following Suspected Nursing Home Abuse
If you suspect that a loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse, there are several steps that you should take to ensure both the preservation of your case and the safety of your loved one.
- Be calm. Nursing home abuse can bring out the worst in an individual -- as a loved one is being mistreated while in a vulnerable state. Still, it's important to think rationally when dealing with a suspected case of nursing home abuse. Losing your temper can only hurt your case.
- Take notes. It's important to document each and every instance of suspected nursing home abuse along with the clues that you have that the abuse is occurring. Try to identify staff whom you believe may be harming your loved one and the facts that lead you to suspect abuse.
- Alert management. Your loved one's nursing home facility may have no clue that abuse is occurring on the premises. Be sure to speak with the facility's management and alert them to the situation. If management is flippant or dismissive about the abuse, it's time to contact the authorities.
- Contact a lawyer. Your loved one may be entitled to compensation for the abuse that he or she suffered while under the care of a nursing home. Pursuing legal action can help your loved one as much as it can help deter others from being abused in the future.
Seeking Justice for Nursing Home Abuse? We Can Help
If you or someone you love has been the victim of abuse of the hands of a nursing home, it's important to seek the help of a seasoned personal injury attorney who can take the weight of a lawsuit off your shoulders. Don't try to take on a nursing home abuse case on your own. These cases are complicated and time-consuming and take time and energy away from what is most important following nursing home abuse--healing to the best extent possible. Nursing home abuse cases should never be tackled alone, and with Brod Injury Lawyers on your side, they never have to be.
At the Brod Law Firm, those that we help aren't just clients--they're family. Our legal team is dedicated to making at-fault nursing homes pay for the trauma that patients suffer. Don't wait until it is too late to seek the justice you deserve for the abuse which never should have occurred. To speak to nursing home abuse attorney Gary Brod about your legal rights, fill out an online case evaluation form or call us at 1-855-BRODLAW today.