Neglect Lawyers Seeking Justice For the Elderly
Our compassionate attorneys are aggressive when seeking justice on behalf of nursing home residents.
There are thousands of nursing homes and assisted living facilities located in the United States. In the coming years, as baby boomers age, the number of these long-term care facilities is expected to dramatically increase to support a growing older population.
Unfortunately, this upswing raises the potential for a corresponding increase in nursing home abuse and neglect cases. Each year in Massachusetts, elderly nursing home residents suffer injuries, humiliation, and even death as a direct result of physical abuse or the harsh consequences of patient neglect.
Examples of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Cases We Handle:
Falls leading to fractures
Falls represent the most common cause of injuries at nursing homes. Often, residents have mobility issues and cognitive limitations that make safety compliance difficult. Residents forget that they should ask for assistance to get up and may fall when they try to do so. This known challenge requires a nursing home to implement safety measures specific to each resident to keep them safe.
When falls happen and a fracture is suspected, immediate medical treatment is required. Any delay in seeking appropriate medical diagnosis and treatment can lead to serious complications and even death.
Bed sores/Pressure Ulcers
Most pressure ulcers and bedsores can be prevented with proper preventative care. For residents with mobility issues, nursing homes are required to adhere to a “turning schedule” to ensure that no one part of the body remains under pressure for too long. When these schedules are not followed, sores can develop over time. These are painful, difficult to treat, and can lead to infection and death.
Many residents are admitted to nursing homes prescribed several medications. Any errors with the dosing schedule and/or with drug interactions can lead to a fatal outcome. This becomes even more challenging when residents are prescribed new medications while in a nursing home. Often, they do not have consistent and regular primary care physician appointments, and as such, errors can happen with their medications.
Maintaining adequate hydration and nutrition is critical to the overall health of nursing home residents. However, ensuring that residents are eating and drinking enough can be challenging when they have issues with swallowing and may not like eating foods and drinks that have been thickened with a material to make it safer. Imbalances with hydration and nutrition can cause electrolyte imbalances and they can appear to have psychiatric issues. That can lead to unnecessary medications to treat this presumed psychiatric condition. When, in fact, all that was needed was IV hydration and/or feeding assistance.
Nursing home residents, especially those with mobility and cognitive limitations, can be vulnerable to sexual abuse by both employees and/or other residents. Too often, residents may be non-verbal, or unable to articulate what happened to them, and these crimes go undocumented. Nursing homes are responsible for keeping residents safe, and this includes taking precautions to prevent these attacks. Nursing homes must supervise and restrict who is allowed to go into resident rooms and must take prompt action to prevent sexual abuse of its residents.
Best Practices for Selecting a Nursing Home in Boston
When a family is faced with selecting a nursing home for a loved one, it is often a very stressful time. Too often, families have limited information and limited time to make a decision. By following these best practices, families can have the information they need to make the best decision for their loved one.
Ask your friends and family
Word of mouth can be the best guidance for families because they can learn firsthand information from other families that have experience with different facilities.
Call different facilities
Call different facilities and learn as much as possible such as (a) are there beds available? (b) what are the costs? and (c) can a person transition from private pay to Medicaid, if needed?
Visit different facilities
After narrowing the list of potential facilities, visit each facility and try to take in as much as possible. Do the residents look happy? Are they engaged in activities or are they in bed in their rooms? Does the facility have social activities for residents? Do residents seem to be interacting with other residents and staff?
Visit the facilities again that made the final cut
Visit at a different time of the day than when you first visited. If the Boston nursing home is unprepared when you come, things may be different. Make sure that the nursing home patients and staff act the same prepared for a visit or not.
Do your research
Obtain inspection reports for the past few years. This will provide some context for how the facility has performed over the years. Did they have issues and correct the issues or do the same issues keep appearing on inspection reports?
Additional helpful information can be found here: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/how-choose-nursing-home
Nursing Home Voluntary Arbitration Agreements:
What is a Voluntary Arbitration Agreement and do you have to sign it?
Arbitration Agreement is a form that is included in all admission documents for a new resident. If signed, the resident agrees to use arbitration and not the court system, to resolve any dispute. Fortunately, this agreement must be voluntary, and a facility may not make signing the agreement a condition for admission. So, the answer is NO, you do not need to sign it and should consult an attorney before signing any legal document that waives legal rights of the resident.
Why should you care?
Submitting a case to arbitration is a waiver of several rights that a resident would otherwise have to resolve a dispute. Most significantly, the resident waives their right to file a case in court and have a jury trial hear the evidence and render a verdict. Instead, the case is submitted to a professional arbitrator who makes a binding decision. The nursing home industry has fought hard in favor of arbitration as it takes the emotion out of the case, which in turn, leads to more favorable findings for the nursing home at arbitration versus trials.
Should you have any questions about nursing home placement, a potential claim, or arbitration agreements, please contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a lawyer in our office.
Parker Scheer Nursing Home Neglect & Abuse FAQs
What Constitutes Abuse In A Nursing Home Setting?
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines the following six specific types of nursing home abuse suffered by people over 60 years old:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
How Pervasive Is The Problem Of Nursing Home Abuse?
CDC estimates show that about 1 in 10 people over the age of 60 living in nursing homes have been abused. Because many cases likely to go unreported, it is believed that this estimate is lower than the actual figures.
The CDC reports that between 2002 and 2016 more than 643,000 elderly patients were treated in emergency rooms for non-fatal assaults and more than 19,000 homicides occurred in the nursing home setting. The CDC statistics also show that men are about twice as likely to be abused compared to women.
How to Detect Nursing Home Abuse Or Neglect?
Some of the most common red flags include:
- Physical abuse – unexplained injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns, or frequent need for medical treatment.
- Emotional abuse – general social withdrawal, fear of interacting with certain staff members, severe changes in personality or mood, and refusal to see family or friends.
- Sexual abuse – development of a sexually transmitted disease, complaints of genital or anal pain, injury, or bleeding.
- Neglect – malnourishment, dehydration, poor hygiene, bed sores or skin ulcers, and unattended medical needs.
Who Is Liable For Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect?
A nursing home facility can be held liable for neglect and/or abuse claims if the facility the injury was caused, in whole or in part, by negligent hiring, understaffing, inadequate training, and/or breach of statutory or regulatory obligations. Also, a facility can be held “vicariously liable” for negligent medical care and treatment provided by its employees.
What Should I Do If I Suspect Nursing Home Abuse Or Neglect?
If you suspect that someone you know is suffering from any kind of abuse or neglect in a nursing home facility, you should report it as soon as possible to the Administrator of the facility, the police (if the abuse rises to the level of a potential crime), the local Ombudsman, and to the Department of Public Health. You can find more information about how best to report elder abuse and neglect claims here:
For general information regarding elder abuse and neglect claims, please review the following websites:
It is also highly recommended that you contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible to ensure that the evidence of the abuse and/or neglect is preserved, obtained, and that all the relevant information is documented and reported to the proper authorities.
Case Results – Nursing Home Abuse
Nursing Home Injury; Nursing Home Fall Case. $100,000
Our Boston nursing home abuse attorneys represented the plaintiff, a 90-year-old male with increasing dementia, was a placed in a Massachusetts long-term care facility after multiple falls at home made it impossible for his elderly spouse to safely care for him. Upon admission to the nursing home, a care plan was developed, which provided for safety measures due to his high fall risk, including sensor alarms on his bed and wheelchair and a wanderguard placed around his ankle.
Nursing Home Burn Injury Case. $68,700
The plaintiff’s decedent, a 92-year-old resident of the defendant nursing home, was seated in her wheelchair, located at the entrance to her bedroom. As she waited for her private care attendant to return with a pillow, a rolling food cart, being pushed by an employee of the defendant nursing home, suddenly struck her wheelchair. As a result of the collision between the food cart and the plaintiff’s wheelchair, a carafe of scalding coffee, which had been placed atop the food cart, toppled, dousing the plaintiff’s back with scalding coffee.
Physical abuse is a very common form of nursing home abuse, and most often committed by the staff members of the home. Others who can commit it include visitors and other patients of the nursing home, although this is less common. It can come in many forms but always carries the intention to cause physical pain, injury, and harm to the victim. Beyond the physical scars, it can also have psychological effects on the victim. This where our nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers in Boston can help.
Physical abuse can take several forms, including striking the victim, kicking, sleep deprivation, exposure to heat or cold, withholding food and/or medication, and more. All of these can have devastating effects on the patient, and long-lasting consequences on his or her physical and mental health.
Due to the increased risk of injury the elderly face, it can lead to bruising, broken bones, fractures, and scars. Other signs can include bite marks or evidence of burns. If you see these signs on a patient, take action as soon as possible to make sure of the cause. Most likely it is elder abuse, especially if there is no readily available and logical explanation of the cause.
There are also many more serious side effects that victims can face. Their ability to function can decline, depression can set in and the victim can become more and more dependent on others. Elders who face this type of abuse also face a higher mortality rate than other members of the population.
If the elder is being abused, you may also notice the presence of unexplained injuries or unexplained absence from the elder’s usual activities and social interactions. These warning signs should not be ignored; it is important to investigate and take action immediately to avoid any potential further harm to the patient.
Those most at risk are elderly women and any patients that are over the age of 80. Only one in six patients have been found to report the abuse on their own, so it is extremely important to watch for any signs of physical abuse in nursing home patients.
You can play a role in preventing a loved one from suffering due to physical abuse. For instance, simply making visits to the elder on a regular basis and paying careful attention to any differences between visits is very important. This includes the patient’s health condition, social patterns, and general behavior. Alone, this will significantly decrease the risk to the patient. In addition, talk to the patient and make sure to listen to any concerns mentioned and note medications the patient is on.
If you believe a loved one is a victim of physical abuse in a nursing home, it is important to take immediate action. The longer you wait, the more risk the patient faces.
Call Our Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect Law Firm to Discuss Your Legal Options In Boston, MA
Parker Scheer LLP’s personal injury lawyers have successfully represented people who have been injured or killed as a result of nursing home abuse and negligence.
Those interested in having their potential claim reviewed by one of our nursing home neglect attorneys are encouraged to contact us by filling out the online form on our website. Clients can also contact us by telephone seven days a week at (617) 886-0500.