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Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect FAQs | New York Attorneys

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Nursing Home Abuse FAQs

How big of a problem is nursing home abuse?

87131351It’s hard to say how many nursing home residents in New York and elsewhere in the U.S. are subjected to abuse or neglect. Statistics from the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) indicate the number of senior citizens affected could range from hundreds of thousands to more than 1 million.

In one survey of 2,000 nursing home residents cited by the NCEA, 44 percent said they had been abused, and 95 percent said they had been neglected or seen another resident suffer neglect. Another study found that more than half of nursing home staff members surveyed admitted that they had mistreated a resident during the prior year. Two thirds of those incidents involved neglect.

A study by Cornell University and the New York City Department for the Aging, titled “Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study” found that the actual rate of elder abuse is 24 times the number of cases reported to authorities. Figures indicated that about 260,000 older adults in New York had been victims of at least one form of elder abuse in the prior year, the study’s authors said.

Worse, the NCEA, which is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, says elder abuse is a growing problem.

What kinds of actions amount to abuse at a nursing home?

79166578Each state has its own definition of “elder abuse.” In New York, it is defined as any crime or violation involving a victim who is 60 years old or older.

Abuse of nursing home residents is often referred to as institutional abuse.” It includes various types of mistreatment in residential facilities such as group homes, board and care facilities, foster homes, and retirement and assisted living facilities, as well as nursing homes. Institutional abuse is usually done by someone with a legal obligation to provide care or protection to the facility’s residents – such as nursing home staff or managers.

Our Nursing Home Abuse page provides more detail. In general, abusive treatment at a nursing home includes:

  • Physical abuse.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Emotional or psychological abuse.
  • Financial exploitation.

What is considered nursing home neglect?

179242492Neglect involves the refusal or failure by responsible parties to provide food, shelter, health care, protection or other necessities of life to a vulnerable nursing home resident. It can be active neglect – purposely withholding care – or passive neglect, which occurs when nursing home staff who are not properly trained withhold care from a resident out of ignorance.

Another form of neglect, known as “self-neglect,” occurs when an elderly or ill person cannot or will not care of him or herself. This includes, for example, not eating properly, not taking medicine, not bathing and not dressing appropriately.

The symptoms of self-neglect, usually due to dementia or physical illness, are often what led a person to seek protection that should be provided by a nursing home or similar assisted-care facility.

Nursing homes may also be negligent in their policies and practices. For instance, negligent hiring practices may result in staff members whose backgrounds, if properly checked, would indicate they might mistreat residents. Other policies might lead to negligent or abusive conditions that affect the home’s residences.

We have more information on our Nursing Home Neglect page.

How can I spot abuse or neglect at a nursing home?

144880727In many cases a nursing home resident cannot speak or express thoughts clearly enough to report abuse or neglect, so it is good to know the warning signs of nursing home neglect or abuse. In other cases, residents report neglect or abuse, but their complaints are downplayed or dismissed.

In general, look for changes in personality, behavior or physical condition. This may include:

  • Poor health and hygiene, including lack of bathing, soiled clothes and bedding, malnutrition, unexplained mental or physical decline.
  • Physical injury, including injuries that indicate sexual abuse.
  • Untreated illnesses or bedsores.
  • Missing or broken property, including finances.
  • Withdrawal from activities.

What should I do if I suspect abuse or neglect at a nursing home?

sb10063680ae-001If you think you see signs or abuse or neglect at a nursing home – or a nursing home resident tells you he or she has been neglected or abused – you should seek solid answers about what is going on. You should report it to nursing home management or, if you believe it is a life-threatening situation, call 911 for emergency medical help.

Once immediate problems are taken care of, you should contact an experienced lawyer. As attorneys assisting the families of nursing home residents in Upstate New York since 1997, Powers & Santola, LLP, can help you make a formal complaint and claim on behalf of a loved one.

In New York, the State Department of Health, Nursing Home and ICF/MR Surveillance is responsible for investigating complaints about abuse and neglect at nursing homes. They work to ensure that nursing homes correct deficient practices.

A Powers & Santola attorney can help you initiate a state investigation so the nursing home fixes problems. We can also help you obtain compensation for your losses. A lawsuit can seek money that a nursing home resident who has been abused or neglected is due for medical bills, pain and suffering and other losses. A negligent nursing home may also be made to pay the cost to relocate a resident or to pay punitive damages for serious violations.

My parent has been abused or neglected at a nursing home in New York. Where can I turn for help?

469937575You should report abuse or neglect of a nursing home resident to local law enforcement authorities and to the State of New York. A lawyer from Powers & Santola, LLP, can help you file a complaint and can provide additional services if a loved one has been abused or neglected in a New York nursing home.

The New York State Department of Health, Nursing Home and ICF/MR Surveillance investigates complaints and incidents at nursing homes in New York State that are related to violations of state or federal regulations. A complaint against a nursing home should be submitted in writing and can be completed online.

A Powers & Santola attorney can also help you hold the nursing home and its managers and employees liable for the harm your loved has suffered. If our investigation shows that negligence on the part of the nursing home’s owners, management or staff led to a resident’s injuries or financial losses, you may be able to obtain restitution, plus additional money for pain and suffering and punitive damages in some cases.

You can count on a Powers & Santola to conduct a thorough investigation of your complaint. We’ll keep at it until you have satisfactory answers about how your loved one has been treated and changes are in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

If the State of New York Investigates nursing home neglect and abuse, why do I need an attorney?

470798161The State of New York has a responsibility to ensure that more than 600 nursing homes comply with state and federal regulations. The state’s investigation does not address your losses. You need an attorney experienced with nursing home abuse and neglect in New York to recover expenses connected to a loved one’s abuse or neglect.

If a state investigation finds that a nursing home has violated regulations, the New York State Department of Health may issue a citation. The facility then must submit a plan of correction that is acceptable to the department and make the changes. The state’s investigation does not address the resident’s losses.

At Powers & Santola, we can deal with how the nursing home’s actions harmed your loved one. We’ll investigate your complaint to determine how the nursing home resident was harmed and what restitution should be paid. This may include payment for the costs of additional medical care required because of abuse or neglect, and for pain and suffering and other losses.

If we uncover evidence of problems with the nursing home’s policies and practices, we can share this information with state investigators to ensure that the state’s case is as strong as possible.

Powers & Santola has offices in Albany and Syracuse, and we are responsible only to the clients we represent in Upstate New York. We work hard until we get results for you and your family.

How can we afford to hire an attorney to help with our nursing home abuse or neglect case?

118397996It doesn’t cost you anything to obtain the legal services of an attorney from Powers & Santola, LLP. We assist clients with nursing home abuse and neglect claims on a contingency-fee basis. Our payment depends on the settlement or court award we obtain from the nursing home and its insurers. If we’re not successful, we don’t get paid.

We can start by providing legal advice to you in an entirely free initial consultation. If we can resolve your problem in a single meeting or direct you to the help you need, there’s no charge and no further obligation.

If you have a claim that requires further help, we’ll draft a representation agreement that sets out a legal fee based on a percentage of any settlement or court award we obtain for you. You won’t pay us any legal fees out of pocket.

As our Client Case Results page shows, Powers & Santola has used this arrangement to recover millions of dollars for New York families like yours.

We urge you to contact us and schedule a free initial consultation with a New York nursing home abuse lawyer at Powers & Santola, LLP, if you suspect that a loved one has been mistreated in a nursing home in New York.

Call us or contact us online now. We are here to listen and to help.