Oklahoma City Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Nursing Home Abuse Information Center
A contract between a nursing home and a resident may affect the duty of care owed to the resident; therefore, if you or an injured loved one signed a contract with a nursing home, it is important to show it to an attorney.
The OKC personal injury lawyers of Maples Law Firm consider it their duty to fight on behalf victims of nursing home neglect and abuse. There is more information about our attorneys and their success in helping abused and neglected seniors on our main Oklahoma nursing home neglect and abuse page. This page, however, is meant to provide more general information about this very important area of law.
Nursing Home Injuries - An Overview
Sadly, when people age, they become more vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Some older people opt to move into nursing homes or long-term care facilities to ensure that they are well cared for, and will be protected from the effects of their deteriorating physical and/or mental conditions. In these settings, however, older people are sometimes actually physically and/or psychologically harmed by the negligent or intentional acts of their caregivers.
Most nursing home facilities take their responsibility for the health and safety of the elderly people who live within their walls seriously; however, when a facility lets things slide patients can suffer severe or even deadly injuries. Abuse and neglect, whether intentional or negligent, can result in a wide range of nursing home injuries.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1.5 million Americans currently live in nursing homes, and that number is rising. By 2030, the CDC predicts that over 3 million Americans will call a nursing facility "home." About five percent of the U.S. population ages 65 and over currently live in a nursing home.
Sometimes, nursing home injuries are the result of simple accidents, just like injuries in any other residence or workplace. But other injuries are the result of intentional abuse or neglect by nursing home staff, other patients, or other people, or are the result of negligent behavior by any of these parties. Injuries may be physical, emotional, psychological, or financial.
Frequent Nursing Home Injuries
Common injuries that occur in nursing homes include:
- Falls Injuries. The CDC estimates that the average nursing home resident suffers 2.6 falls per year. Severe falls can cause broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and other severe injuries. Many nursing home falls are not reported.
- Bed sores. Patients who cannot get out of bed or who spend long hours each day in a bed or wheelchair without changing position may develop bed sores. Mild bed sores can compromise a patient’s comfort and immune system, and severe ones can cause permanent damage to muscles, bones, and other essential body parts and functions.
- Fractures. The bones of elderly people are often more fragile than in younger people, especially if an elderly person has osteoporosis or is unable to do any exercises that might help maintain bone density. Fractures from falls and other events are therefore more likely.
- Infections. As in all medical settings, the risk of infection in a nursing home is elevated. In addition, an elderly person’s immune system is often weaker, especially if the person is recovering from surgery, injury, or illness. Insufficient cleaning procedures can often result in elderly nursing home residents suffering infections at a higher rate than the general population.
How Family Members Can Help
Family members and friends can help protect their loved ones from nursing home injuries. Some steps to take include:
- Attend all appointments regarding your elderly person’s needs, including planning sessions and follow-up meetings. Schedule a meeting with staff if you think your friend or family member needs care he or she is not receiving.
- Keep a journal of your visits to the nursing home, including the day and time. Note which staff you talked to, if any, whether you reported any problems and what they were, and what follow-up steps were taken to correct the problem or prevent it from happening again.
- Be observant when visiting with your loved one. Are they happy and comfortable? Do they have any complaints? Do they seem to be eating well? Have they become more withdrawn or fearful? Do they have any injuries or illnesses that they did not have at your last visit, and is there a reasonable medical explanation for them? Do not be afraid to ask questions of the staff, especially if you do not understand their answers or the answers do not seem complete.
- Take photographs of your loved one and his or her surroundings, both when he or she is doing well and when he or she is not. Note the nursing home’s regular routines and available staff. Can your loved one live as fully as possible within the services the nursing home provides? Is the nursing home failing to meet a need that it can or should be able to meet for your loved one?
Many people in the U.S. discount the feelings and rights of the elderly because they associate aging with physiological, psychological, and social disability; however, this attitude is unwarranted and unfair. Senior citizens should be allowed to live out their lives free from pain, suffering, and distress caused by the negligence or abuse or others. One could argue they have an even stronger right to live in peace and comfort than any other segment of society, given the contributions they have generally made to society over their many years.
Negligence in the Nursing Home Setting
If you or a loved one has been harmed while a nursing home resident, contact an attorney for advice about protecting your legal rights and seeking recompense for injury.
What Your Rights Are as a Resident of a Nursing Home
A nursing home or its owner, or proprietor, can be held liable for negligence in failing to properly care for its residents. In such a case, the injured resident must prove: 1) that the nursing home's owner or employees breached a duty of care owed to the resident; 2) that the resident was injured by this breach; and, 3) that the nursing home owner's or employee's conduct caused the injury. In a case where a resident dies because of the nursing home's negligence, it is not necessary to prove that the resident would have survived if not for the negligence. If the defendant accelerated the resident's death at all, it may be liable for the death, and if the negligence caused the resident additional pain and suffering, the nursing home can be liable to the resident's estate.
Special Considerations in Proving Damages in Cases Involving the Elderly
A party who brings a claim against a nursing home will want to bring out all evidence of the losses or suffering that resulted from the nursing home's conduct, and should attempt to provide as much information as possible on the following types of damages:
Statutory Protection of Older Persons
The frequency of mistreatment of older people came to the attention of the general public and lawmakers in the early 1980's. Numerous cases, in which older people were being physically harmed; deprived of food, water, or proper medical attention; and divested of their life savings by caregivers and relatives, were brought to light. When the widespread nature of this abuse and neglect became clear, state legislatures started to enact laws to address these problems.
Nursing Home Injuries Resource Links
Administration on Aging.
Contains information on the Older American's Act, State Ombudsman Programs, and an expansive directory of Web sites on aging.
The Alzheimer's Association's official website. This site is your gateway to a wealth of information on Alzheimer's disease. Mission is "to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health."
American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization for people 50 and over. It provides information and resources; advocate on legislative, consumer, and legal issues; assist members to serve their communities; and offer a wide range of unique benefits, special products, and services for members.
Please contact Ray Maples for a free case evaluation about the injury suffered by your loved one. Call us toll-free any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at (888) 226-6159. If you are from Oklahoma City, you can also call (405) 551-8864. We also have a personal injury intake form that you can fill out. Our lawyers and staff return all correspondence quickly. Our lawyers help people in Oklahoma City, Norman, Lawton, Elk City, Tulsa, Enid, Weatherford, Clinton, Shawnee, Ardmore, Ada, Oklahoma County, Canadian County, Cleveland County, Logan County, and other communities throughout Oklahoma.