Our nation’s elders have served us well, in both military service as “The Greatest Generation” and on the home front, working hard in our society and raising families through challenging times. We honor their service.
But when our family members are in need of health care support beyond what we can provide at home, we sometimes have to find and entrust individuals and health care facilities with their care. What happens when you’ve made your choice, but what was promised and financially invested in goes wrong? Who do family and caregivers turn to for help?
Our personal injury attorneys are here to help you protect your loved ones who you believe have been victims of abuse. We offer no cost, no obligation consultations, even on short notice when a potentially abusive or dangerous situation has occurred.
Live chat with us on this page, call (404) 554-0777 or email us using our contact form at the bottom of this page.
How Often Does Abuse Occur?
According to the American Psychological Association, an estimated four million older Americans are victims of physical, psychological, or other forms of abuse or neglect. The APA says that for every instance reported to authorities, as many as 23 cases go undetected. Abuse at long term care facilities and in home health services have been in the news more frequently, where previously the abuse was seriously underreported. An investigation by the U.S. House of Representative Government Reform Committee reported by ABC News found that of the 5,283 nursing homes in the U.S., thirty percent were cited for 9,000 instances of abuse in a two year period. A joint investigation between the independent news organization ProPublica and the PBS program Frontline, “Life and Death in Assisted Living” exposed shocking instances of abuse, neglect, and deaths. Families, friends, health care workers from both within and outside the facilities report abuse. There have also been whistleblowers who report abuse of residents as well as Medicare billing reimbursements for undelivered or substandard care.
Types of Senior Housing and Long Term Care Facilities and Services
There have been reports of illegal and unethical treatment of both for-profit and non-profit facilities including:
- Nursing homes
- Assisted living
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC’s, independent through acute nursing care)
- Group homes
- Home care
Abuse Can Occur as a Result of Many Things
A few are:
- Understaffing sometimes leading to abusive neglect
- Excessive medicating or restraints, “chemical” or physical
- Inadequate or unclean facilities
- Outdated services and policies that should be in place to protect residents in these facilities
- Financial and belongings theft and fraud
And the worst:
- People who physically and psychologically assault our vulnerable aged family members
There are systems designed to prevent abuse of the elderly. States, cities and counties have regulations in place that set standards for these facilities and systems for reporting abuse to the authorities. Governments have inspectors who are mostly dedicated professionals visit and evaluate facilities, but often the municipalities or states lack enough inspectors to travel to adequately do their job.
Abuse can take place anywhere, at any time, whether the facility is new or older, was just inspected, profit or non profit, and is locally owned or a national corporation.
When you consult an attorney at Harman Law Firm, we can advise on whether you should submit your concerns to the ombudsman “problem solvers” that are on staff at many corporations and government offices on aging. But, like the inspectors, the ombudsman offices may be understaffed with few resources to follow up on cases. Sometimes, situations must be evaluated carefully for alleged abuse, and there are times when elders with memory loss claim things happened when they didn’t.
Don’t take any chances, and don’t wait if you suspect abuse. Contact us immediately, as you may need to learn the appropriate steps to take that best protect your elder. There are a number of things that should be kept or noted to build a case for legal action.
Patient to Patient Abuse
An emerging area of concern is abuse among patients/residents of these facilities where staff do nothing to protect the abused. Physical and sexual assault reports are being revealed in increasing numbers as facilities are, in most states, required to report the abuse where they weren’t before.
Two of the specific concerns:
Taking advantage or physically or sexually assaulting a patient with memory impairment or Alzheimer’s
Abusive patients who move from one facility to another can be dangerous. There may not be laws in states that require the former facility to inform the new one of prior criminal or abuse behavior
What Can You Do?
Again, if you suspect or have proof of abuse, or your loved one has been hospitalized for reasons unrelated to their current disability, chronic or acute condition, contact the Harman Law Firm immediately.
- Have to find inpatient or retirement/assisted living housing for your elder, there are resources for choosing facilities wisely, including access to inspection reports, checklists for evaluating your choices, and more. See the links below for more information.
- Visit your elder, ask them how they’re doing, what types of experiences are they having in the facility, and what you can do to help.
- Some families have installed surveillance equipment, “grannie cams,” similar to monitors for young children. There are unresolved legal issues with the cameras to be aware of, though, including privacy concerns for your elder and other patients/residents.
Harman Law Firm attorneys are dedicated to helping you protect your loved ones.
We believe every person deserves the right to justice if abused or willfully neglected by individuals or by a profit or non-profit nursing home. Sometimes that means taking a case to court, and sometimes that means agreeing to a settlement with the property owner or their insurance company. But at the Harman Law Firm, we are not quick to make a settlement just to move a case through. Each person, and each case, is unique and it is our mission to find justice in whatever method is best for the person and their family. Let us be your advocate for justice and the right compensation.