Understanding Pennsylvania Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
When is a Nursing Home Responsible for Abuse and Neglect?
Do you have questions about the quality of care you or a family member is receiving at a nursing home in Pennsylvania and the greater Philadelphia metro area including Chester County and Lancaster County? Do you believe that your family member has been injured at neglected at such homes as Genesis Health or Manor Care or Conestoga View? In 2003 a NCBI article suggested that elder abuse might be as widespread as child abuse, although there was limited research available at that time. Since then, the actual research on elder abuse has increased substantially, and the results are just as dismal. Elderly patients who live in residential settings offering long-term supportive services are especially vulnerable, as many of them suffer from chronic diseases which make them wholly dependent on others. Don’t be the victim, get a team of PA nursing home injury lawyers ready to fight for you by contacted Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610) 692-8700.
These vulnerable elderly patients are often unable to report abuse and neglect, or fearful that if they do tell others about the abuse and neglect, they could suffer retaliation. Imagine being dependent on a nursing facility and its staff for your food, medical care, a bed to sleep in, the administration of necessary medications and assistance for virtually every day-to-day activity. As you can see, these elderly residents are extremely vulnerable.
Elder Abuse Statistics
According to nursinghomeabuse.org, as many as 5,000,000 elders are abused each and every year. One study reported that nearly one-fourth of nursing home residents have experienced at least one instance of physical abuse while residing in a nursing home or other type of assisted living facility, although other studies conclude that only 1 in every 14 incidents of elder abuse are ever reported.
Elder abuse is not always obvious and can take many forms, including:
About 14 percent of reported elder abuses are for neglect, and about 10 percent are for physical abuse. (It is estimated that about 28 percent of elders may suffer physical abuse and 15 percent may suffer gross neglect, with another nearly 20 percent suffering serious psychological abuse) As noted, elders are often emotionally abused with threats, social isolation, withholding of food or medications, and intimidation, therefore emotional abuse could be the least often reported type of elder abuse.
Who Is Most at Risk for Elder Abuse?
While any elderly person residing in a care facility could be at risk for some type of elder abuse, women are more likely to suffer elder abuse—two out of three elder abuse victims are women. Patients who suffer from mental impairments—dementia and Alzheimer’s in particular—are the most vulnerable to elder abuse. Unfortunately, researchers have also found a link between elder abuse and lower socioeconomic status, with social isolation acting yet another factor which can increase the rate of elder abuse.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Elder care facilities like nursing homes tend to facilitate an environment which creates a higher risk of elder abuse due at least in part to understaffing, staff burnout, ineffective administration and the lack of effective policies related to nursing home abuse and neglect. When you consider that nearly 70 percent of nursing homes in the United States are a for-profit business—with a bottom-line goal of making money—you can see that the safety and comfort of the elderly might not always be the top priority for the owners of the facility.
When a nursing home is selected for an elderly loved one, it is expected that safety, standards of care and attention to the needs of the elderly person will be a high priority, however this is not always the case. When it is found that an elderly relative or friend has been the victim of neglect, it can be both heartbreaking and shocking, however it can also be difficult to know where to turn to receive justice for your loved one.
Is the Nursing Home Responsible?
Nursing homes have a responsibility to provide care and safety to the elderly residents, and when allegations of abuse or neglect arise, the company which owns the nursing home should be held liable. The following actions are some instances which can lead to nursing home neglect and abuse, as well as instances in which the nursing home bears responsibility:
- Failure to meet the basic needs of the elderly resident, including providing food, water, shelter, safety and proper medical care;
- Failure to conduct proper background checks on nursing home employees;
- Failure to properly supervise employees, or to take immediate action against employees who act improperly;
- Failure to properly train nursing home employees;
- Failure to immediately address any type of hazardous or unsafe condition in the nursing home;
- Failure to immediately attend to an elderly resident’s medical needs;
- Failure to provide sufficient nursing home security;
- Failure to protect nursing home residents from intentional psychological, physical, financial or sexual abuse by nursing home staff, or
- The unnecessary use of physical restraints or harmful drugs to control or subdue elderly residents.
Getting the Help You Need from the Ciccarelli Law Offices
If an elderly loved one suffered harm from any of the above situations, you are entitled to hold the nursing home responsible for that harm. If you believe a Pennsylvania nursing home company should be held liable for the injuries to your loved one, do not delay—contact the Ciccarelli Law Offices immediately. Nursing home abuse cases can be complex, however our highly experienced attorneys are committed to fighting for justice for the vulnerable elderly nursing home residents. Remember, nursing homes owe a strict duty of care to their residents, and when that duty of care is breached, and negligence results in harm, the nursing home should be held legally liable for all resulting damages.
At the Ciccarelli Law Offices, we always fight aggressively for our clients, and in the case of elder abuse and neglect, we strongly believe this very vulnerable group deserves an advocate who truly cares. We will first request a thorough investigation from a Pennsylvania adult protective services agency. Next, we will contact the authorities and press criminal charges against the responsible party. Finally, we will actively pursue civil action through an abuse or neglect lawsuit.
While money will not negate what your elderly loved one has endured, we believe a monetary award can both deter such behavior in the future as well as provide your loved one with financial compensation for pain and suffering. In short, not only are you protecting your family member and doing the right thing for him or her, you are also helping other families avoid this type of heartbreak.
When you need a team of experienced Pennsylvania nursing home neglect and injury lawyers, Contact the Ciccarelli Law Offices by email or phone at (610) 692-8700 or (877) 529-2422. We represent nursing home injury clients throughout the greater Philadelphia area including Chester County, Bucks County, Delaware County, Berks County, Lancaster County and Montgomery County. We offer multiple office meeting locations, home visits and hospital visits and serve clients in many locations including Philadelphia, Lancaster, West Chester, Reading, Downingtown, Coatesville, Kennett Square, Exton, Honey Brook, and Oxford.