Understaffing Leads To Neglect And Lack Of Monitoring
Dementia And Bedridden Patients At Greatest Risk
Family Recourse For Loved Ones’ Injuries
Nearly two million Americans live in long-term care facilities, and abuse and neglect against the elderly are national concerns. Federal nursing home regulations state that “the resident has the right to be free from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse, corporal punishment, and involuntary seclusion.” Nursing home neglect is also a type of elder abuse committed against older adults in assisted living facilities. It involves the substandard care of a resident, or a breach of duty that harms a resident. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), roughly 95% of nursing home residents have been neglected or have witnessed neglect. Inadequate care in nursing homes can have serious consequences, including death. If you have suspicions that an older loved in a nursing home has been neglected or injured by wandering unsupervised, do something about it. Evans Law Firm, Inc. represents nursing home residents subject to neglect or any form of intentional abuse, including illegal physical or chemical restraint or sexual assault If you have a loved one who has suffered injury due to abuse or neglect in a nursing home or care facility here in San Francisco or Alameda County or elsewhere in California, call us at 415-441-8669, and we can help. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).
California law defines neglect of an elderly person as follows:
15610.57. (a) “Neglect” means either of the following:
(1) The negligent failure of any person having the care or custody of an elder or a dependent adult to exercise that degree of care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise.
(2) The negligent failure of an elder or dependent adult to exercise that degree of self care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise.
(b) Neglect includes, but is not limited to, all of the following:
(1) Failure to assist in personal hygiene, or in the provision of food, clothing, or shelter.
(2) Failure to provide medical care for physical and mental health needs. No person shall be deemed neglected or abused for the sole reason that he or she voluntarily relies on treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone in lieu of medical treatment.
(3) Failure to protect from health and safety hazards.
(4) Failure to prevent malnutrition or dehydration.
(5) Failure of an elder or dependent adult to satisfy the needs specified in paragraphs (1) to (4), inclusive, for himself or herself as a result of poor cognitive functioning, mental limitation, substance abuse, or chronic poor health.
The definition of neglect is thus quite broad and refers to neglect of any of the daily living needs of the elderly. Neglect can be fatal: untreated pressure ulcers/bed sores, malnutrition, dehydration, untreated contagious disease or infections (like scabies), under-medication are all instances where neglect can kill a vulnerable older person. Understaffing in skilled nursing facilities can lead to neglect as aides and nurses are tasked with caring for more residents than they can safely handle. Bedridden patients that must be cleaned and turned frequently are particularly vulnerable to neglect; pressure wounds/bed sores can develop and worsen rapidly if a bedridden patient is not cleaned and turned several times a day.
Wandering and Elopement
Understaffing can also lead to lack of supervision of dementia patients in particular who may be prone to wander within or even outside a facility. If a long-term care facility resident who is not capable of protecting him or herself from harm or who is cognitively impaired wanders or leaves the nursing home (elopes) and gets hurt, the facility may be acting negligently and is responsible for the resulting harm. Wandering and elopement are defined as:
- Wandering: cognitively impaired resident can move about inside the facility without an appreciation of personal safety needs and possibly enter into harm’s way
- Elopement: residents who are incapable of protecting themselves from harm are able to successfully leave the facility unsupervised and unnoticed and possibly enter into harm’s way.
Elopement can be fatal as when a patient wanders out into traffic, or dies as a result of prolonged exposure to hot or cold weather. Sadly, elopement is a common symptom in dementia patients. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately 60% of people with dementia will wander at some point. If a skilled nursing facility is not qualified to care for dementia patients, staff may be unprepared to protect residents with dementia from wandering off.
Common Signs of Physical or Verbal Abuse and Neglect
- Bed injuries/asphyxiation
- Emotionally upset or agitated, extremely withdrawn and non-communicative
- Falls, fractures or head injuries
- Instances of wandering/elopement
- Pressure ulcers (bed sores)
- Rapid weight loss or weight gain; signs of malnutrition
- Reluctance to speak in staff members’ presence
- Unexplained or unexpected death of the resident
- Unexplained injuries such as wounds, cuts, bruises or welts in various stages of healing
- Unsanitary and unclean conditions
- Unusual or sudden changes in behavior (fear of being touched, sucking, biting, rocking)
- Wanting to be isolated from others
Ingrid M. Evans and Evans Law Firm, Inc. represent victims of financial elder abuse and nursing home abuse in Alameda County, San Francisco and throughout California. Call Ingrid today at (415) 441-8669, or by email at <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>. Our toll-free number is 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267). If you spot any signs of abuse, do something about it.