Nothing is more important than the welfare of our loved ones. This is especially true for elderly relatives who are not independent and live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Every year, thousands of Charlotte residents place their trust in the staff and managers of nursing homes to treat residents with respect and care. While many nursing homes pride themselves on the cleanliness of their establishments and the careful attention they provide to residents, other facilities do not share the same scruples. Unfortunately, this type of neglect can have devastating consequences for elderly residents who may already be struggling with illness or disability, so if you believe that your loved one may be suffering from nursing home neglect and have already notified the appropriate authorities, it is critical to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you hold the responsible parties accountable.
In an effort to ensure that nursing home residents are not mistreated, the Georgia Legislature passed a series of laws, with which facility owners and staff must comply. For instance, regulations require that all nursing homes be under the supervision of a licensed nursing home administrator. Other mandatory practices regarding physicians and nurses require that:
- Nursing staff be on duty at all times and that each patient receive direct nursing care for at least two hours in a 24 hour period;
- All nursing homes have at least one doctor, one dentist, one registered nurse, and one qualified dietitian working with the residents;
- Physicians record a written statement about each resident’s physical and mental condition within two days of their admission;
- Nursing home administrators keep clear, accurate, and accessible records of all patient evaluations and examinations;
- Every nursing home employ a qualified dietitian who spends no less than eight hours every month creating or modifying the menus;
- Patient medications only be administered by nursing or medical personnel; and
- Residents are seen by a physician at least once a month.
Georgia law also regulates patient comfort, requiring nursing homes and assisted living facilities to adhere to the following rules:
- Facilities must serve adequate meals that are served no more than five hours apart and no more than 14 hours can pass between the evening meal and breakfast;
- Residents must have a nutritionally adequate diet that is adjusted according to age, sex, activity, and physical condition;
- Nursing homes must use patient beds that are at least three feet wide and mattresses that are at least four inches thick;
- Each patient must have access to a bedside table, a reading lamp, a chair, drawer space, a closet, a towel rack, a soap dish, a drinking glass, a mirror; and
- Facilities must make books, magazines, newspapers, games, televisions, radios, and other supplies available to satisfy the interests of the residents.
Finally, nursing home facilities must take the following steps to ensure that residents are kept safe:
- Ensuring that all floor surfaces are smooth and level;
- Equipping all hallways with handrails;
- Installing grab bars in all showers, tubs, and toilets;
- Ensuring that the premises are kept clean and free of debris;
- Providing each resident with access to a signaling device; and
- Providing residents with wheelchairs, walkers, and mechanical lifters when required.
When nursing homes do not adhere to these regulations and so cause injury to residents, they can be required to compensate the victims for the cost of treating their injuries and for inflicting pain and suffering.
Due to the importance of ensuring that nursing home residents are provided for, the federal government also created a set of guidelines that nursing homes must comply with, including that each facility:
- Has sufficient nursing staff to meet the needs of all residents;
- Conducts assessments of each resident’s functional capacity;
- Develops individualized care plans for each resident;
- Ensures that residents do not develop pressure sores;
- Treats bedsores in such a way that healing is promoted and infection is prevented;
- Ensures that residents receive appropriate supervision
- Ensures that residents are properly hydrated and receive regular and nutritional meals; and
- Carefully administers medications.
Nursing home managers and staff members are also specifically directed to focus on the emotional well-being of residents by:
- Promoting their quality of life;
- Maintaining their dignity and respect; and
- Allowing residents to choose activities, make decisions regarding health care, and create their own schedules.
To ensure that nursing homes fulfill these obligations, federal law requires them to keep complete and accurate records for all residents. Each facility must also be prepared for inspections.
Elderly nursing home residents are often unable to report neglect, either because they are suffering from dementia or out of fear of the repercussions. For this reason, residents’ family members should remain vigilant for signs of neglect, which could take the form of:
- Bed sores;
- Unexplained weight loss;
- Clogged breathing tubes;
- Medication errors;
- Unexplained falls; and
- Unsanitary living conditions.
Nursing home neglect can cause physical injuries as well as emotional trauma, both of which can be prohibitively expensive to treat. Fortunately, plaintiffs who can establish that a nursing home’s management or staff were negligent may be able to collect compensation to cover these costs as well as to compensate the victim for the pain and suffering he or she endured.
Contact us Today to Discover how an Experienced Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney can Help
At Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A., we have the resources and the experience to fully investigate claims of nursing home neglect. This could include requesting and reviewing medical records, speaking with medical experts, and conducting witness interviews. The information obtained during these proceedings can make all the difference in the success or failure of a case. If you live in Atlanta and wish to speak with a dedicated personal injury lawyer in Atlanta about a possible case of nursing home neglect, please contact a member of our legal team today by sending us a brief message or initiating a live chat at your earliest convenience. We can also help you schedule a one-on-one case evaluation.