Nursing Home Abuse
Inadequate staffing is a chronic problem in healthcare institutions that endangers patient welfare. Staff shortages in nursing homes are inextricably linked to higher reports of elder neglect and abuse.
A recent report published in the New York Times reinforces concerns that staffing levels in Medicare-assisted living facilities are alarmingly inadequate. The report analyzed payroll records of nursing home aides, nurses and employees, yielding hard evidence that Medicare’s 5-star rating system for nursing home facilities is seriously flawed and greatly exaggerated day-to-day staffing levels.
Kaiser Health News analyzed payroll figures from 14,000 nursing homes across the nation, as mandated by the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. The data revealed that nursing homes rated highly for good staff-to-resident ratios on the Nursing Home Compare website run by the government, were seriously short-staffed on occasion. As an example, one nursing home facility – on its worst day – had just one aide for every 18 residents.
Nursing Homes Short on Staff
In response to this new information, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services stated it “is concerned and taking steps to address fluctuations in staffing levels.” The agency is responsible for routine nursing home inspections and confirmed that it would lower ratings for assisted living centers that had gone 7+ days without a registered nurse. This admirable intention may be cold comfort for families who entrusted the care of their loved ones with nursing homes that earned 5-star ratings – facilities that may be too understaffed to provide adequate care.
Nursing home workers are relied upon for a number of daily tasks, from feeding and bathing to making sure residents get appropriate medications. Understaffing puts tremendous pressure on aides, reducing the quality of patient care, and leading to high levels of employee turnover. Research has shown that nursing homes with lower staffing numbers are more likely to be cited with health code violations — a telltale sign that something is seriously wrong.
Understaffing Negatively Impacts Patient Care
There are currently some 1.4 million seniors residing in U.S. nursing homes. Workers in understaffed facilities simply do not have the resources to pay attention to every small detail, which can lead to medication errors, preventable injuries, and sometimes death.
Patients who are bedridden or suffer from severe cognitive decline are at greatest risk for injury in understaffed homes. Essential tasks like bathroom visits or turning an immobile patient over are overlooked. This neglect leads to avoidable falls, hospitalizations, infections, bedsores and other trauma.
Overworked and overburdened staff cannot provide the standard of care necessary for nursing home residents. Staffing issues have been connected to a number of abuse reports in nursing homes across the country, including:
- Bed sores
- Infections requiring hospitalization
- Abnormal weight loss
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Inadequate medical care
- Preventable falls from lack of supervision
Neglect has physical and emotional consequences on nursing home residents, who often become depressed from the lack of social interaction. When understaffing leads to neglect and patients suffer, the law affords remedies.
Nursing home neglect attorneys serving NJ and NY
If you suspect neglect or mistreatment of your loved one, contact Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman for a free consultation with nursing home abuse lawyers in Bergen County, NJ and Rockland County, NY. We will review your case to determine if you have grounds for compensation. We handle nursing home abuse cases in New York and New Jersey on a contingency basis.
- NY Times, It’s Almost Like a Ghost Town.’ Most Nursing Homes Overstated Staffing for Years https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/07/health/nursing-homes-staffing-medicare.html
- NY Times, Staffing Fluctuates at Nursing Homes Around the United States https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/07/07/health/nursing-home-map.html?action=click&module=RelatedCoverage&pgtype=Article®ion=Footer
Financial exploitation is the most common form of elder abuse, next to neglect and emotional abuse. About 12 percent of the crimes against older Americans involves financial abuse – unauthorized check cashing, coercing the elder to part with property, or diverting guardianship. Each year, senior citizens are swindled out of some $36.5 billion dollars by trusted individuals and caregivers, according to San Francisco-based True Link Financial.
The most common types of financial elder abuse include:
Most often, trusted individuals or unknown thieves use an elder’s checks, bank account information, or credit cards to obtain money without permission. In addition to money, valuables, medications, and personal property may be stolen. Carefully orchestrated identity theft can wipe out an elder’s entire life savings over a period of time. Older people may be viewed as easy, weak targets – pushed down and mugged on the street by pickpockets. Some thieves brazenly walk right into an elder’s home, claiming to be investigators looking for leaks or coming in to talk about switching utility service, but use distraction techniques to rob the house of valuables.
Criminals know that the elderly are particularly vulnerable to scams due to diminished hearing and increased confusion. Grandparent scams have been popular in recent years, where a perpetrator phones an elderly person, claiming to be a grandson or granddaughter in distress and in need of an immediate wire transfer. In another type of scam – the lottery scam — a perpetrator tells the elder a nonexistent lottery or prize has been won, with financial information required just to pay for shipping. Telemarketing scams convince elders to invest capital in bogus charities, nonexistent products, fake enterprises, or megachurches. Internet scams often come from foreigners requesting participation in a “business opportunity.” Service fraud involves taking money for work that is done improperly, partially done, or sometimes not done at all; this type of fraud is common, for example, with roof replacements after natural disasters.
Misuse of authority
Financial advisors may use their position of trust to convince elders to buy into expensive annuity scams, knowing full well that the money invested will not mature for 10-15 years – after the elder is likely to have passed away. Excessive trading activity and investments in high-fee funds designed to generate commissions for financial advisors are also common. These investment scams tend to peak around age 65. Misuse of authority by family members tends to come later. Caregivers who possess the power of attorney misuse their position to obtain a loan or withdraw money in an elderly person’s name, or make last-minute changes to the person’s property without consent.
Legal document abuse
Legal document abuse occurs when caregivers or other individuals trick an elder into signing over power of attorney when the elder lacks mental capacity to understand what is happening. Wills made when the elder is not mentally sound are a form of abuse. Elders are often tricked into signing paperwork that removes them from their property titles or adds the name of caretakers onto property and bank accounts. The elder may inadvertently make a dramatic and hasty change to a Will, Trust, or Transfer on Death Deed.
Extortion and manipulation
Loved ones may threaten, scare, or intimidate an elder into giving up assets or property. In one example, a female friend moved in with an elderly man who had memory issues. The woman claimed she was in the process of getting a divorce and needed a large sum of money for medical reasons. She used her undue influence to convince the man to write a letter stating that the money was a gift. She promised to repay the money once her divorce was final. In the end, she used the money for personal reasons and moved back in with her husband. Sadly, these stories of people preying on the emotions of the elderly and using their undue influence to extort are all too common.
Get representation from a financial elder abuse attorney
If you worry that a loved one has suffered some type of financial abuse, do not hesitate to contact an expert elder abuse attorney at KGG Law. We are experienced in these matters and bring the power of investigation to your case. We’ll help you uncover what really happened, blowing the lid off the abuse and bringing the full weight of justice to bear on the perpetrators. You only pay a pre-arranged legal fee if we bring your case to a successful conclusion.
Additional “financial elder abuse” resources:
- Indiana University East – Elder Abuse Fact Sheet, http://www.iue.edu/area9/Elder-Abuse-Fact-Sheet.pdf
- Mercury News – Senior Scams and Financial Elder Abuse Rampant and Grossly Underreported, http://www.mercurynews.com/2015/08/12/senior-scams-financial-elder-abuse-rampant-and-grossly-underreported-bay-area-prosecutors-say/
- Aging Care – How To Prevent 5 Common Kinds of Elder Abuse, https://www.agingcare.com/articles/how-to-prevent-5-common-kinds-of-elder-abuse-127186.htm
- National Adult Protective Services Association – What Is Financial Exploitation, http://www.napsa-now.org/get-informed/what-is-financial-exploitation/
- CANHR – Financial Elder Abuse, http://www.canhr.org/factsheets/abuse_fs/PDFs/FS_FinanElderAbuse.pdf
- Hands On Banking – Examples of Financial Elder Abuse, https://handsonbanking.org/seniors/elder-financial-abuse/recognizing-financial-fraud/examples-of-fraud/
- AVVO – Elder Financial Abuse-Financial Extortion and Gift, https://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/elder-financial-abuse-financial-extortion-and-gift-771183.html
- Credit.com – Horror Stories of Elder Financial Fraud, http://blog.credit.com/2015/02/horror-stories-of-elder-financial-fraud-107857/
- WPBF – Thieves Target Elderly Women in Distraction Thefts, http://www.wpbf.com/article/thieves-target-elderly-women-in-distraction-thefts/8655428
Nursing homes are a place where the elderly and seniors should feel safe. Unfortunately, reports of abuse to the residents of nursing homes is not uncommon. According to an estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 16,000 nursing homes operating in the United States, and almost two million people aged 65 or older are currently residents. As the number of residents increase, it may result in the elders and seniors not receiving the high level of care that they deserve.
Although a few residents are neglected, many others become victims of nursing home abuse by caretakers and other staff members. Nursing home abuse can take a number of forms.
Physical abuse is the use of physical force to cause injury, such as hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, shaking, slapping, kicking, pinching, and burning.
Withholding of prescribed medications, physical restraints, force-feeding, and physical punishment of any kind also comes under physical abuse.
Some common signs of physical abuse:
- Unexplained bruises, black eyes, lacerations, and rope marks
- Unexplained bone fractures, broken bones, and skull fractures
- Sudden weight loss
- Dehydration or malnutrition
- Sudden change in behavior
Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind with an elderly person can be termed as sexual abuse. It can include unwanted touching, sexual assault or battery, such as rape, sodomy, coerced nudity, and sexually explicit photographing.
Some common signs of sexual abuse:
- Unexplained injury or bruises around genital area or breasts
- Diagnoses of sexually transmitted diseases (STD)
- Stained or torn underclothing or bedding
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding
Emotional/psychological abuse is any deliberate causing of anguish, pain, or distress through verbal or nonverbal acts. A few examples of emotional/psychological abuse are treating an older person like an infant; isolating them from his or her family, friends, or regular activities; and giving them the “silent treatment.” This type of abuse may also include verbal assaults, insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, and harassment.
Some common signs of emotional/psychological abuse:
- Being emotionally upset or agitated
- Being non-communicative or non-responsive
- Showing unusual behavior usually attributed to dementia
Financial abuse is the illegal or improper use of an elder’s property, money, or assets. This can include cashing an elderly person’s checks without authorization or permission; forging a signature; misusing or stealing an older person’s money or possessions; coercing or deceiving an older person into signing any document; and the improper use of guardianship, or power of attorney.
Some common signs of financial abuse:
- Sudden and unexpected changes to will or powers of attorney
- Suspicious inclusion of additional beneficiaries to life insurance policies
- Disappearance of personal property or money
- Unexpected withdrawals of account funds and charges to credit cards
- Large amount of unpaid bills
As a caretaker or staff member in a nursing home, the failure or refusal to fulfill any obligation or duties to an elder can be termed as neglect. In other words, the failure to provide an elderly person with basic life necessities such as food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medicine, comfort, personal safety, and other essentials are considered as neglect.
Some common signs of neglect:
- Showing signs of dehydration, malnutrition
- Untreated bed sores, and poor personal hygiene
- Unattended or untreated health problems
- Hazardous or unsafe living conditions/arrangements
Abandonment is the desertion of an elderly person by an individual who is responsible for providing care, or by a person who has physical custody.
Some common signs of abandonment:
- The desertion of an elder at a hospital or a nursing facility
- The desertion of an elder at a shopping center or any other public location
Contact nursing home abuse lawyer at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C.!
If your loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse, contact nursing home abuse lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. We are committed to protecting your loved one and obtaining financial compensation for the injuries. Call us at (800) 711-5258/(845) 459-0001 for a consultation with one of our nursing home abuse lawyers. You can also email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nursing home abuse can take many forms such as: inflicting injury intentionally, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, care/service deprivation or punishment that results in physical harm, pain or mental anguish. Whether you’re a family member, friend or professional caretaker, recognizing the signs of nursing home abuse can help you to take timely action.
The warning signs of nursing home abuse include:
Suspicious injuries: Physical injuries like bruises, broken bones, lacerations, scars, welts, sprains, dislocations and restraint marks on wrists and ankles can be an indication of abuse.
Caregiver behavior: The behavior of caregivers can show warning signs. For instance, if the caregiver seems frightened in the presence of the nursing home resident or is reluctant or unwilling to give you privacy when visiting. This could be a possible sign of several types of abuse, including physical, emotional, verbal, or financial abuse.
Damaged property: It’s important to be aware of your loved one’s property damage whenever visiting them. Broken furniture, torn clothing or other damaged property may be indicative of physical abuse.
Changes in behavior: Unusual or sudden changes in behavior can be an indication of physical or emotional abuse of the nursing home resident. Signs to watch for are: attitude toward the facility and its staff, withdrawal, exhibiting signs of dementia, rapid physical deterioration, or intensification of mental ailments.
Unexpected or unexplained death: Nursing home residents are usually elderly and suffering from physical ailments. Physical abuse at the hands of a younger, healthier person may possibly result in death.
Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman P.C
At Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman P.C, we have a proven reputation for results in nursing home abuse. We are committed to protecting your loved one and obtaining financial compensation for injuries and elder abuse. Call us today at (800) 711-5258/(845) 459-0001/(201) 690-7735 or email at email@example.com.
The law requires doctors, social workers, nurses, and other health care professionals to report the signs of nursing home abuse. In some states, all citizens, regardless of vocation can report the suspected nursing home abuse. It should be reported in specific details as soon as possible.
Nursing home abuse can be reported in a number of different ways depending on the situation. The following methods can be used to report a nursing home abuse:
- Contact a health care doctor, a social worker, an elder patient advocate, or other nursing home’s supervisory staff for guidance on the nursing home abuse case.
- If the nursing home abuse you suspect is an emergency, contact the local police department immediately by calling 911.
- If the abuse is not a life-threatening emergency, you can make a report at the local law enforcement agency or district attorney’s office.
There are several agencies involved in the welfare of nursing home residents. These agencies provide assistance in reporting a nursing home abuse:
- The National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence has a list of hotlines in each state for reporting elder abuse.
- The Long-Term Care Ombudsman protects the health, safety and rights of nursing home resident. They also investigate concerns and complaints related to nursing home residents.
Adult Protective Services (APS): The role of APS varies from state to state. Adult Protective Services (APS) generally investigates on reports of abuse, offer responsive services, and advises on other resources that may be available.
Seek legal assistance from a nursing home abuse lawyer
It is important to hire a lawyer who has experience in nursing home abuse cases. A nursing home abuse lawyer can assist you to report the abuse properly and to the correct agency. They can also ensure that the agency follow up and investigates on the reported abuse. A nursing home abuse lawyer can help to work out issues with law enforcement officials, and provide guidance in the process of taking civil legal action against the abuser or the nursing home facilitator.
Contact Kantrowitz, Goldhamer& Graifman P.C.
The nursing home abuse lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer& Graifman P.C. can help to protect your elderly loved one’s rights. We will investigate and get to the bottom of your suspicions about injuries your loved one has sustained. If necessary, we will use our findings in a court of law to hold nursing home owners and operators responsible for elder abuse. Call us today at (800) 711-5258/ (845) 459-0001/ (201) 690-7735 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is your loved one a resident at a New York or New Jersey nursing home? Make sure that you pay attention the facility’s treatment of your relative, as some centers experience issues with items like bedsores, malnutrition, abuse and drug dispersal errors.
If you ever want to know about a nursing home’s reputation, there is a program titled Nursing Home Compare that offers reports about the quality of services offered at facilities that care for patients who receive Medicare or Medicaid.
To view how your local nursing homes compare, you can visit the program by clicking here. You can search the Nursing Home Compare by typing in a facility name, zip code or city.
As this federal database shows, nursing home abuse and neglect is something that agencies take very seriously. If you have a family member whom you believe is suffering at the hands of a facility, you should contact your local authorities, especially if it involves instances of assault or abuse. Additionally, as the case below shows, it may be in your best interest to contact an attorney.
NYC Nursing Home Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit
We decided to blog about nursing home abuse and neglect this week, because there was a story in the news recently generating headlines. According to the New York Post, the family of a once-prominent New York judge has settled its wrongful death lawsuit with a Brooklyn nursing home after the man froze to death at the facility seven years ago.
According to the Post, the settlement was reportedly for $750,000. The case involved the late Civil Court Judge John Phillips, who reportedly froze to death at his Prospect Park Residence. His area at the facility was allegedly unheated at the time. Attorneys for his family said the facility still has heating issues, and the Post reported that it talked to current residents who said that the dining room and other common rooms remain unheated at the center.
Working with an Attorney on a Nursing Home Claim
As this case shows, many resident deaths and injuries sustained at nursing homes are preventable. Again, signs of neglect that you may want to look out for include bedsores, malnutrition or dehydration and infections. Additionally, you may want to look for signs of bruising on your loved one, as this can be an indication of potential abuse or assault.
In addition to all of this, it may be a good idea to inspect the facility for issues with bedding, hygiene and heating and cooling.
Remember, by contacting a nursing home abuse attorney if you see signs of abuse or neglect, he or she may be able to launch an investigation into your case before it is too late.
If you leave your loved one in the hands of a nursing home, you would expect that his or her personal safety would be a priority; sadly, this is not always the case. We will continue to update you about nursing home cases and their legalities in our blog.
Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. – Injury Lawyers
KGG’s Corner: Some studies have found that as many as 44 percent of nursing home residents said that they have experienced abuse.
Do you have a loved one who is currently a resident at a nursing home?
Make sure you pay attention to any medication prescribed to him or her, as there have been reports of facilities using powerful antipsychotic medications in an attempt to sedate residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
According to National Public Radio, the drugs are only approved to treat people with serious mental illnesses, like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Many of the drugs have black box warnings about complications, including heart failure, infections and death.
NPR reported that some of the drugs being used, including Risperdal and Seroquel, have been involved in lawsuits over injury claims. The news outlet reported that a study in 2011 found that “88 percent of Medicare claims for antipsychotics prescribed in nursing homes were for treating symptoms of dementia, even though the drugs aren’t approved for that.”
The number is so high that the federal government began a campaign to reduce antipsychotic medication usage at nursing homes by 15 percent. Although they were able to accomplish this reduction over the course of the last two years, more than 300,000 nursing home residents are still prescribed antipsychotic drugs.
If you click on the source link below, NPR has a database where you can look up antipsychotic drug medication rates by the name of a facility and/or zip code.
Should I talk to an Attorney If My Loved One is Injured in a Nursing Home?
If you have had a loved one who has been injured because of a drug they were prescribed in a nursing home, you should speak with our nursing home abuse attorneys so that we can investigate your case. Keep in mind, medication errors could be considered a form of medical malpractice and/or nursing home neglect. If your loved one has suffered because of poor nursing home care, we could help you seek compensation via a lawsuit.
Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. – Injury Lawyers
KGG’s Corner: According to NPR, about 19 percent of all long-term nursing home residents receive antipsychotic medication.
Apparently, there are still numerous facilities across the country that have inadequate fire sprinkler systems or are missing protections in general. According to the Associated Press, there are 385 facilities in 39 states that have failed to meet sprinkler requirements set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services this year.
The CMS initiated an August 2013 deadline requiring nursing homes to have up-to-date sprinkler systems in place. According to the AP, the facilities that are failing to meet these standards are licensed to house more than 52,000 residents. Forty-four nursing homes across the country have no sprinkler systems in place at all.
“That is intolerable in this day and age,” Brian Lee, executive director of Families for Better Care said, according to the AP. “It’s not like they don’t have money to put these systems in. They have the money. They just choose not to do so.”
The facilities that are not meeting standards face potential fines and/or closure. The guidelines were put in place after two fires killed more than 30 people at nursing homes in Hartford, Connecticut and Nashville, Tennessee in 2003.
Should I Talk to an Attorney If My Loved One Is Harmed in a Nursing Home?
If you leave your loved one in the hands of a nursing home, you would expect that his or her personal safety would be a priority—sadly, as this shows, this is not always the case.
In addition to premises liability problems, residents can suffer injuries in nursing homes because of abuse and neglect. This can include instances of employee violence or negligence, which can lead to bedsores, malnutrition, dehydration and infections.
Nursing homes should be held liable for any injuries or deaths sustained on their premises. For more information about nursing home abuse or neglect claims, call us today.
Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. – Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers
KGG’s Corner: The majority of nursing home facilities failing to meet sprinkler standards are for-profit centers.
Whenever you place your family member in a nursing home, you would expect that he or she would receive professional care. However, this is not always the case.
Sometimes, nursing homes have issues surrounding employees when it comes to the care of patients. These problems are often seen in the form of abuse and neglect, which may take many forms.
Recently, a Rochester nursing home employee admitted to stealing prescription drugs from elderly patients by placing other pills in their place. According to the Associated Press, Deborah Cleveland was a med tech at the Heather Heights Assisted Living and Memory Care Facility, located in Pittsford, when the alleged theft occurred.
The AP reported that Cleveland was charged with a misdemeanor count of attempted fraud. She reportedly stole 650 pills, including 230 oxycodone painkillers from a victim.
Can I File a Lawsuit If My Loved One Is Injured in a Nursing Home?
It is sad that patients at this nursing home may not have received prescription drugs because of the alleged actions of this nurse. A nursing home must be held liable whenever an employee does something that leads to the harm of a resident.
Forms of nursing home neglect can include bedsores, malnutrition or dehydration and infections, in addition to signs of abuse, which can include broken bones and bruises. A resident being withheld prescribed medication is a form of neglect, as he or she may need it to survive.
Your loved one should not have to suffer if he or she is a resident at a nursing home. You should never assume that your loved one is adequately being cared for in a nursing home—make sure you investigate any suspicions of abuse or neglect that you may have.
Contact us toll free at (800) 711-5258 to schedule a free initial consultation or complete the form on this page to let our skilled attorneys review your case.
Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. – Bergen County Personal Injury Lawyers
KGG’s Corner: Bedsores can result when a nursing home fails to reposition an immobile patient.
Nursing homes have a duty to protect residents from threats of violence, as well as from neglect and other issues that may put their safety at risk.
Nursing home abuse and neglect is something that state and federal agencies take very seriously. If you have a family member who you believe is suffering at the hands of a nursing home, you should contact your local authorities immediately, as well as our personal injury attorneys.
Last month, it was announced that a Long Island nursing home was under investigation following the death of a 71-year-old resident. According to CBS New York, at the nursing home, the Medford Multicare Center, a few employees were recently charged in connection to the death of a resident.
On June 5, nine employees were arraigned on patient neglect and abuse charges, and for falsifying business records in connection to the October 2012 death of a resident.
On July 20, another resident died at the same nursing home and State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Office sent investigators to the facility to investigate the circumstances surrounding the resident’s death.
According to media reports, the family of the second resident to die said that the resident’s death certificate disputes the timeline of events that led to her casualty as told by the nursing home.
How Can I File an Injury Lawsuit Against a Nursing Home?
Aside from death, nursing home residents can suffer injuries because of neglect. Injuries to look out for can include bedsores, malnutrition or dehydration, head injuries and infections. All of these issues are painful and preventable.
Our firm represents people who have suffered nursing home injuries, as well as the family members of residents who have experienced neglect. Contact our Bergen County nursing home abuse attorneys today so that we may review your case and seek out damages.
Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. – Bergen County Injury Lawyers
KGG’s Corner: Bedsores are pressure ulcers that form when there is prolonged pressure on a person’s skin.