Who is to Blame in a Nursing Home Abuse Case?
According to the Morning Call, in the 2015-2016 two-year period, Pennsylvania ranked ninth among states for the largest number of nursing home abuse incidents, based on hospital emergency room records. Of course, since it is estimated that less than ten percent of nursing home abuses of the elderly are ever reported, it can be difficult to actually determine the true number of nursing home abuse incidents. In the above-mentioned study, Illinois had the largest number of nursing home abuse incidents, followed by Michigan, Texas and California.
Government Places Blame on Medicare
A government audit found fault with Medicare for the rising number of nursing home abuse incidents for its apparent failure to enforce federal laws which require immediate notification. Although the federal statute has been in effect for more than five years, investigators discovered Medicare had neglected to enforce that statute as far as reporting abuse incidents to law enforcement and other specific agencies. Nursing homes also have reporting requirements—any incident which results in an injury to a resident, and involves even a suspected crime, must be reported within two hours.
Nursing Home Population to Increase
What is certain, is that due to the Baby Boomer generation, the number of elderly residents in nursing homes is expected to grow by leaps and bounds over the next two to three decades. This means that more and more of us will have an elderly loved one in a nursing home, and that our loved one has an unsettlingly-high chance of suffering some form of abuse while there—whether physical, mental, psychological, financial or sexual. When the unthinkable happens, it will be necessary to determine who is liable for nursing home abuse or neglect, and to distinguish who perpetrated the harmful contact.
Who Committed the Nursing Home Abuse?
The perpetrator of the nursing home abuse could have been one person or more than one person. The perpetrator could have been a nursing home staff member, an individual who visited the nursing home in a personal or professional capacity, another resident, or a person who trespassed onto the nursing home property. While nursing home abuse and neglect can usually be traced back to those employed at the facility, negligence and misconduct from others is not entirely unheard of. If it is determined that a third party is responsible for the abuse of your loved one, your attorney will determine whether that party is an independent contractor, a contractor employed by the nursing home or a contractor employed by another party who provides a product or service to the facility.
Abuse by Nursing Home Employees
If a nursing home employee is responsible for the abuse of your loved one, then it is important to know that the nursing home itself is responsible for maintaining a certain standard of care for all elderly residents. This duty of care includes responsible hiring, proper training, and consistent supervision of the nursing home staff. The nursing home is responsible for ensuring all residents receive the medical care and attention they need and deserve, providing a clean and safe environment and attending to all basic needs such as food, water, medical attention and necessary medications. If a nursing home staff member is careless, reckless or intentionally harmful to an elderly resident, the nursing home is responsible for his or her actions and you may be able to file a claim against the nursing home. If your loved one died as the result of an action (or inaction) of a nursing home staff member, your attorney may counsel you to file a wrongful death claim against the nursing home facility.
Abuse by a Third Party
If an independent contractor commits an act of abuse against an elderly nursing home resident, then that person is usually responsible for their own behavior. In this instance, the person is not directly employed by the nursing home, therefore while they owe your loved one no specific duty of care, they are liable for their own actions. You would then need to file a claim against the individual. If the abuse or neglect by the independent contractor led to the death of your loved one, you could be counseled to file a wrongful death action against the individual.
The Nursing Home’s Duty of Care to Your Loved One
If it is determined the nursing home—or a nursing home staff member—is responsible for the injuries to your loved one, then there are certain elements which must be proven in order to obtain compensation. Your attorney will establish the following:
- There was a duty of care owed to your loved one by the nursing home.
- That duty of care was breached by the nursing home when substandard care was provided.
- Your loved one was harmed or injured by the abuse or neglect of the nursing home, therefore should be compensated.
The duty of care can be established under both federal and state laws as well as by the contract signed at the time your loved one entered the nursing home. The type of injury as well as the extent of the injuries to your loved one will show that the nursing home definitely breached its duty of care and that compensation should be awarded. More specifically, the nursing home must do the following:
- Provide adequate, nutritious daily meals to all residents
- Assist those patients who have difficulty feeding themselves
- Ensure the residents are always well-hydrated
- Dispense all necessary medications for residents
- Ensure every resident receives all necessary medical care
- Ensure each resident receives physical therapy, or any other type of therapy necessary
- Ensure all basic hygiene needs are met
- Ensure each patient lives in a safe environment, free from abuse of any type
Whether staff members were insufficiently trained, the nursing home exhibited poor hiring practices or lacked sufficient security staff, there was a failure on the part of the nursing home to fully address medical needs, there was an unnecessary use of physical restraints or the staff intentionally abused your loved one, it is essential that you speak to the experienced Pennsylvania attorneys at the Ciccarelli Law Office as quickly as possible.
Getting the Help You Need from Ciccarelli Law Offices
The attorneys at the Ciccarelli Law Offices are well-experienced at investigating the care received by the elderly in nursing homes when abuse or neglect is suspected. When it is found that substandard care has led to neglect or abuse of your loved one, we will hold the nursing home or appropriate party responsible. We fully understand your situation, and will help you through process with knowledge and compassion. Nursing home abuse cases can be complex, so contact Ciccarelli Law Offices today! We have an office conveniently located in Wayne & Radnor at 150 N. Radnor Chester Rd Ste. F200, Radnor, PA 19087 or you can call (610) 692-8700 or (877) 529-2422.
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.