When a person thinks about nursing home abuse, the first thing that comes to mind is an act of active malice against a resident. However, oftentimes the worst form of nursing home abuse comes from nursing staff doing nothing at all. Nursing home neglect occurs when a caretaker for your elderly family member fails to provide a standard level of care to protect that family member. There are many levels of severity of nursing home neglect, some which may not be immediately noticeable. However, if one of your family members is in a nursing home and you believe the nursing home staff may be neglecting them, you should consult with a South Carolina nursing home abuse lawyer.
Nursing Home Abuse Versus Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing home abuse often involves malicious intent by the nursing home staff to harm residents. For example, a nursing home may be liable for abuse if its staff members are physically pushing or hitting a resident. In contrast, nursing home neglect occurs when the nursing home allegedly failed to meet their obligation to the resident by neglecting to engage in some action that resulted in a negative impact on the resident’s wellbeing and health. A nursing home may be held vicariously liable for the acts of its employees if its employees are acting in the course and scope of their job responsibilities.
Understanding the Different Types of Nursing Home Neglect
Nursing homes are required to provide their residents with a safe, clean and responsive environment. Nursing home neglect may manifest itself in many ways, through ignorance of a resident’s physical, emotional, or mental needs. Overall, given the older age of nursing home residents and the large population of nursing homes in general, there is a higher risk for injury and spreading of disease if the residents are not taken care of properly. Below are some of the more common types of nursing home neglect and some signs to watch out for if you are suspicious of neglect:
- The Staff Does Not Employ Hygienic Practices. One of the biggest concerns in nursing homes is maintaining a hygienic facility to prevent residences from contracting and spreading sickness throughout the home. Oftentimes the close proximity and high number of residents makes this concern particularly prevalent. Moreover, elderly residents often have difficulty maintaining their own personal hygiene at the same level as when they were younger. They therefore rely on nursing home staff to help bathe, groom, and change them if necessary. Some signs of hygiene neglect may include your loved one having soiled undergarments or frequent urinary tract infections, never having their clothing changed, or showing sign of dental disease. Hygiene neglect can often result in an increased incidence of falls as residents who are fall risks attempt to toilet themselves rather than sit in soiled briefs.
- Unsanitary or Dangerous Conditions. Nursing homes are held to basic standards of cleanliness and safety and expected to employ sanitary measures. Nursing home staff should be cleaning residents’ rooms and common areas regularly and ensuring potentially dangerous conditions are addressed promptly. Signs of this type of neglect include dirty sheets and dirty restrooms, slippery floors, an absence of bed rails and ramps in the facility, maintenance issues that go unfixed, or other potential hazards.
- Nursing Home Understaffing. This type of neglect is frequently intertwined with the others. If a nursing home fails to hire the necessary staff members it needs in order to ensure their residents are kept in a sanitary and hygienic condition while maintaining their levels of hydration and nutrition, this may be a sign it is understaffed. As nursing homes are typically for-profit organizations, they have an incentive to try to hire as few staff as possible to achieve basic standards. Signs to look out for include watching if your loved one is frequently suffering falls, frequently disheveled or if there are few or no attendants around when you visit your loved one. Prior to selecting a nursing home, it is good to look at the staff to resident ratio as a preventative measure.
- Lack of Oversight When Distributing Medication. Oftentimes nursing home residents require a variety of medications to be administered at specific times of the day. A neglectful staff may accidentally give the resident the wrong type of medication or may forget to give the resident their medication altogether. To ensure your loved one is getting the proper care, you should be sure to ask them and the staff about the nursing home’s practices for distributing medication.
- Dehydration/Lack of Nutrition. A nursing home is required to provide adequate nutrition and hydration for their residents. Failure to do so often impacts residents’ overall health and opens them up to potential diseases and other health issues. You should ask the resident and staff members about their policies regarding hydration and feeding to ensure your loved one is adequately cared for.
- Lack of Adequate Medical Care. Similar to the necessity of ensuring medication is distributed correctly, it is also important to ensure your loved one is receiving the medical care he or she requires. For example, a common disease among nursing home residents is diabetes, which requires constant monitoring of blood-glucose levels and administration of insulin if necessary. You will want to make sure the nursing home understands the needs of your loved one and is able to follow them.
- Emotional Neglect. This form of neglect is often the hardest to detect because it can be more subtle. However, emotional neglect may cause residents to experience depression and other psychological issues. Signs to watch out for include exclusion of the resident from nursing home activities and reports of any negative or demeaning comments from the nursing home staff.
Contact an Experienced Greenville, South Carolina Nursing Home Lawyer Today!
If one of your loved ones is in a South Carolina nursing home and you believe they are not receiving the care they are entitled to, you should contact a Greenville nursing home abuse lawyer today. The experienced nursing home abuse lawyers at David R. Price Jr., P.A. can help evaluate the merits of your claim and develop a strategy to ensure the rights of your loved one are protected! Contact us today for a free consultation.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.