More than 1.5 million disabled and elderly individuals currently live in nursing homes in the United States. This highly vulnerable segment of our population usually need extensive assistance with many of the daily activities most of us take for granted. They often need help eating, bathing, and dressing. And many of the residents also require the skilled care of nurses or other rehabilitative specialists.
A large percentage of nursing home residents have physical and/or cognitive impairments. This heightens the risk of their vulnerability and makes them more susceptible to abuse. In addition, their condition can impede any effort to substantiate any allegations of abuse and makes it difficult to build cases for prosecution.
There are an unacceptably high percentage of nursing homes that have been cited for deficiencies that involved harm to their residents. Many incidents placed the residents at risk of serious injuries or death.
Too many residents of nursing homes are subjected to such abusive behavior as beating, slapping, pushing, and sexual assault – often by the people who are entrusted to take care of them.
Although there have been efforts made to alleviate this growing problem, there are many challenges. One challenge is that the federal agency that is charged with the oversight of the states’ being compliant with federal nursing home standards – the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – defines nursing home abuse differently than the definition used by a number of states.
For example, CMS visited two states where nurse aides struck residents. Although these actions were considered to be abusive by CMS, it was not considered to be abusive behavior under certain circumstances by the state survey agencies. However, where similar circumstances occurred in a third state the offense was considered to be an example of abusive behavior.
Abusive incidents often stay hidden because the victims, family members, and other witnesses are either not able to file a complaint or they are reluctant to file a complaint for a number of reasons, including the fear of reprisal.
And, when abusive incidents and complaints are reported they often aren’t reported immediately. This makes it more difficult to investigate the case and makes it even more challenging to obtain the evidence that would be necessary to find the abusive party guilty of nursing home abuse.
Therefore, if you have a loved one who is the resident of a nursing home and you suspect nursing home abuse, you should contact the proper authorities immediately.
To find out who to contact about Nursing Home Abuse, go to http://www.sokolovelaw.com/legal-help/nursing-home-abuse/
Wendy Moyer on behalf of Sokolove Law.