Nursing Home Abuse: Pain and Humiliation in a Variety of Forms
Whether or not to place a loved one in the care of a long term nursing, or an assisted living facility can be among the most difficult and emotionally charged decisions faced by younger family members. The decision is most often prompted by a family’s inability to provide the level of skilled nursing needed to safeguard the health, well being, comfort, and dignity of an elderly or infirmed family member. While most such facilities provide excellent care to their residents, the number of reported instances involving abuse and neglect is significant.
It is not difficult to detect “abuse” when such acts involve trauma or excessively forceful handling of a resident. There are, however, other forms of abuse and neglect, found in long-term care and nursing home facilities, which may also constitute a violation of Massachusetts law, despite the absence of physical abuse. These less obvious forms of abuse and neglect include: failing to comply with the resident’s unique “care plan”, such as “supervised ambulation” or by permitting a resident to remain in soiled clothing for extended periods of time, or failing to supervise feedings, resulting in the compromised dignity of the resident. Such instances are indeed forms of abuse and are regarded as such under current Massachusetts law.
Nursing care in long-term care facilities in Massachusetts must be provided to residents in accordance with the regulations specified in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Regulations for Long-Term Care Facilities, 105 CMR sec. 150.000-159.000, and in accordance with standards promulgated by Federal regulations established by the Health Care Financing Administration. The failure of a nursing home to implement or adhere to the standard of care as set forth in these regulations may give rise to a valid legal action under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statute, otherwise known as Massachusetts General Laws Chapter. 93A. Violations under Chapter 93A may entitle the resident or supporting family to significant monetary compensation for injuries or losses sustained by a nursing home resident as a result of offensive conduct. The Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General has already declared: “it shall be an unfair or deceptive act or practice in violation of 93A sec. 2, for a licensee or an administrator to fail to comply with an existing state or federal statute, rule or regulation which provides protection to or for residents or prospective residents of long-term care facilities.” This language, and the court decisions that have interpreted such language, provide a potent and potentially valuable remedy to family members able to demonstrate evidence of abuse.
Parker Scheer recently handled a claim which involved the abuse of a resident of a long-term care facility who suffered from Alzheimer’s type dementia. Upon her admission to the facility, a resident care plan was formulated, requiring “ambulation with supervision during all waking hours”. During a four-month time period, the elderly resident reportedly fell numerous times and was repeatedly found lying on the floor in various locations of the facility. Despite these repeated falls, no remedial safety or fall prevention plan was ever implemented by the long-term care facility as required. As a result of the resident’s last fall, she sustained a fractured left hand. The elderly resident was also frequently allowed to remain in soiled clothes, and was not regularly bathed or supervised during feedings — despite the documented need to do so.
Parker Scheer successfully argued that the treatment provided to the resident violated numerous provisions of State and Federal statutes and regulations which formed the basis of the 93A claim asserted against the long-term care facility. Specifically, Parker Scheer alleged that the facility failed to protect the resident from accidental injury by developing and executing a safety plan as required by both Massachusetts law and Federal law. Parker Scheer also argued that following the injury, necessary medical treatment was delayed and physical therapy was not provided, in direct violation of 105 CMR sec. 150.007, which resulted in serious and permanent impairment of the patient’s hand. Finally, Parker Scheer argued that the elderly resident’s dignity was compromised in violation of 105 CMR sec. 150.015, when she was allowed to remain in soiled clothes and was found walking down the hall wearing only a diaper. Following one day of formal mediation, the claim was settled, resulting in the recovery of significant monetary compensation on behalf of the resident.
If you or a family member are concerned with the level of care being provided to a resident of a long-term care or assisted living facility in Massachusetts, you should first discuss your concerns with the nursing home director. If you remain dissatisfied with the response, Ombudsmen are available in Massachusetts to advocate on the resident’s behalf, and, if warranted, investigate your complaint and take necessary remedial action.
Find Out if You Have a Nursing Home Abuse Case
Parker Scheer’s nursing home abuse lawyers are always available to meet with you in order to discuss a suspected or proven instance of abuse. For more information about your rights, contact our nursing home abuse attorneys by telephone at or by filling out a web form. All inquiries will be kept strictly confidential and are discussed without cost or obligation.
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