Elder abuse or mistreatment is defined as intentional or negligent actions that cause harm or create a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable elder by a caregiver or other person. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, the 2010 Census recorded the greatest number and highest proportion of people age 65 and older in our country’s history. Because of this, more people are in need of care and protection. When you place a loved one in a nursing home, you expect those caregivers to offer the medical services and protection that are needed. Unfortunately, that often does not happen. One report from the Department of Health and Human Services noted that in one year investigators received over 37,000 complaints of nursing home neglect and abuse.
These Steps Can Help Minimize the Risk of Nursing Home Abuse
As with all other types of negligence, there is no way for families to completely prevent their loved ones from becoming victims. There are, however, certain steps you can take to help minimize the risk.
- Choosing a nursing home: Before you choose a nursing home, look into the organization’s history and conduct some basic investigation. Have there been numerous complaints? What is the resident to healthcare provider ratio? Is the facility clean? Do the staff members seem friendly when they do not know they are being watched?
- Bedsores and pressure sores: Medicare has determined that bedsores and pressure sores are “never events,” which means they should never happen. There is no excuse for a nursing home to neglect its residents to the point where these sores develop. Discuss with the provider what they do to ensure prevention of bedsores.
- Trip and falls: Many residents in nursing homes are unable to protect themselves against dangerous conditions, such as slick floors and uneven surfaces. Take a look around the premises to see if there are any potential problems.
- Check on your loved one: Be sure to routinely check-in on your loved on to see if he/she is receiving adequate care and nutrition. If there are issues, advise the facility immediately.
Nursing Home Resident Rights
All nursing homes in Arizona are licensed through the Office of Long-Term Care Licensing Services under the Arizona Department of Health Services. To help ensure that residents’ basic rights are protected and that they do not fall victim to a catastrophic injury or a wrongful death, this office has a published a list of nursing home resident rights as provided by Federal and Arizona State statutes, rules, and regulations. The list is broken out in several categories and is summarized below for your convenience.
Nursing Home Residents’ Basic Rights
- To be treated with dignity, respect, and in full recognition of your individuality
- Dignified existence and self-determination
- The right to be free
Nursing Home Admission Rights
- The nursing home must inform you or your representative of all resident rights and of its governing rules, in a language or manner that you understand.
- It must provide you with written notice of any entitlement to Medicaid benefits and how they can be applied for.
- A nursing home cannot require you to pre-pay or make cash deposits if you are covered by Medicare or other government programs.
Freedom from Restraint & Abuse Rights
It is a resident’s right to be free from:
- Chemical and physical restraints that are not used to treat medical symptoms
- Verbal, physical, mental, and sexual abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary isolation
- Interference, discrimination, coercion, and reprisal when exercising your rights
Visits, Privacy, and Confidentiality Rights
Residents are entitled to:
- Privacy in their rooms and during visits, medical treatment, and phone calls
- Confidentiality of medical and financial records
- Access to persons providing health, legal, social, and other services
Quality of Life Rights
Residents are entitled to:
- Submit grievances without restraint
- Contact client advocates and receive information from them
- Have immediate access to communicate with any individuals, agencies, or organizations
- Select health care, activities, and schedules of their choice
- Participate in resident and family groups, social events, and religious and political activities
Living Accommodations & Care Rights
Residents are entitled to:
- Share a room with a spouse if he or she agrees and space is available
- Be given notice before a room or roommate change takes place
- Refuse a room transfer that is for relocation purposes only
Money & Possession Rights
- Residents are entitled to manage their own finances
- Residents cannot be required to deposit personal funds with the nursing home
- Residents can authorize the nursing home to manage their funds and are entitled to see regular reports concerning those funds
- Residents have the right to use and retain personal possessions
Medical Care & Treatment Rights
Nursing home residents have the right to:
- Receive services that reasonably meet their needs and preferences
- Be fully informed about their medical conditions and overall health status
- Choose their own doctor
- Help plan and choose their care and treatment
- Refuse treatment, even if they have previously consented to it
- Access their records within 24 hours and purchase copies of those records within 48 hours
- Select their own pharmacy as long it is in compliance with facility standards
- Refuse to participate in experimental research
Speak with Phoenix Nursing Home Lawyers at Snyder & Wenner, P.C.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by nursing home neglect or abuse, do not delay in contacting us. We will investigate your claim and order the necessary records to determine what happened, why it happened, and what could have been done to prevent it. We represent abuse victims in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, and all surrounding cities.
Call us today at (602) 224-0005 for a free consultation.