There are more than 15,000 nursing homes in the U.S. that shelter more than 1.5 million residents – elders, individuals who may be physically or mentally incapacitated, and those in need of rehabilitative therapy due to illness or accident.
To protect and uphold the interests of these residents, the Nursing Home Reform Act was enacted by the US Congress in 1987, mandating nursing homes participating in Medicare and Medicaid (or receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds) to “provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care.”
The Act also states that “the resident has the right to be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion.”
It seems, however, that no kind of law would stop acts of abuse and neglect from being committed against residents of nursing homes because these inhumane acts continue to be committed every year. Though reported acts of abuse and neglect number to thousands, it is believed that so many more remain unreported, especially the more sensitive and humiliating cases, namely sexual abuses.
Acts of abuse and neglect do occur in nursing home facilities in the U.S. and the most common reasons why these acts happen include understaffed facilities, overworked personnel, very demanding needs of the residents and the defenselessness of the victims.
Federal nursing home regulations define abuse as any form of act that deliberately inflicts injury, deprives care or service, or results to intimidation, unreasonable confinement, or punishment resulting to physical harm and/or mental anguish. Neglect, on the other hand, is defined as failure to provide a resident with the necessary care and service which will ensure freedom from pain or harm, or a failure to assist a resident during potentially dangerous situation that can result harm or anxiety; neglect may by intentional or non-intentional.
Abuse and neglect of nursing home residents are crimes since these are directed against defenseless people whose care have been entrusted to those who promise to provide quality care and service. Thus, it is important that families of these residents are always sensitive to any sudden changes in their loved ones (during visits) as any unexplainable changes may just be manifestations that something is wrong. Contacting a highly-qualified nursing home abuse lawyer or personal injury lawyer immediately may be necessary for the possible legal actions the family may decide to take.
According to the law firm Mokaram & Associates, P.C., “Personal injury law is a wide branch of tort law that encompasses civil cases brought against other citizens. These cases typically arise when the negligence of one person causes injury to innocent party. This negligence can be created through action or inaction either directly or indirectly. Frequently these cases result in compensatory damages to assist with the injuries incurred.”