NURSING HOME INJURIES | What is being Done to Protect the Elderly

The Vulnerable Elder Rights Protection Program was created by Congress in the 1992 Amendments to the Older Americans Act (OAA) to protect and enhance the basic rights and benefits of vulnerable older people. The Administration on Aging (AoA), which administers the program at the Federal level, encourages its nationwide network of 57 State and Territorial Units on Aging (SUA's), their 655 Area Agencies on Aging, and 221 Tribal Organizations to focus their efforts on issues affecting those elderly Americans who are the most socially and economically vulnerable. The program brings together and strengthens four advocacy services--the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program; Programs for the Prevention of Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation; State Elder Rights and Legal Assistance Development Programs; and Insurance / Benefits Outreach, Counseling and Assistance Programs--and calls for their coordination and linkage in each state. The program also calls on the SUA's to take a holistic approach to elder rights advocacy by coordinating collaboration among other legal services programs and encouraging advocates in each state to address those issues of highest priority for the most vulnerable elderly.

Although there is not a full proof way to choose a nursing home, there are steps you can take to better ensure the safety of your family members. By asking questions and looking for signs at the facility you can better prevent unnecessary instances of nursing home neglect and abuse from occurring. Here are a few questions you can ask the facility (information from Medicare):

  1. Is the home and the current administrator licensed?
  2. Does the home conduct background checks on all staff?
  3. Does the home have special services units?
  4. Is there nursing home neglect and abuse prevention training?

Contact a Kansas nursing home injury lawyer representing clients in Emporia, KS today to schedule your free initial consultation.

As with any important decision, by doing your homework you can help put your mind at ease with your final decision. Some other useful tips include:

  • The nursing home and its administrator should be licensed by the State to operate.
  • Do the nursing home's procedures to screen potential employees for a history of abuse meet your State's requirements?
  • Some nursing homes have special service units like rehabilitation, Alzheimer's, and hospice. Learn if there are separate waiting periods or facility guidelines for when residents would be moved on or off the special unit.
  • Do the nursing home's training programs educate employees about how to recognize resident abuse and neglect, how to deal with aggressive or difficult residents, and how to deal with the stress of caring for so many needs? Are there clear procedures to identify events or trends that might lead to abuse and neglect, and on how to investigate, report, and resolve your complaints?
  • Are there policies or procedures to safeguard resident possessions?

Filing a Complaint

It is usually best to file complaints in writing and to keep copies of all correspondence.
Following are some tips for what to include in a complaint letter:

  1. Provide very specific information in your complaint as to what occurred, including times and dates when problems occurred when possible, names and addresses of witnesses, etc.
  2. If the problem caused the resident to receive medical treatment, provide details and indicate where the medical treatment occurred and the names of any treating doctors.
  3. Note whether you made a complaint to the nursing home staff. If so, indicate when and with whom you spoke to and what the response/results were.
  4. Detail what action you want taken.
  5. If there are specific laws that you believe are being violated, explain which law.
  6. Note whether the problem was an isolated incident or is ongoing and whether it affects more than one resident.
  7. If the resident was injured in any way, consider talking to one of our attorneys who specializes in personal injury law.

State and federal agencies are obligated to investigate complaints filed by, or on behalf of, nursing home residents. Complaints regarding nursing home residents, administrators and staff can be filed with the Department of Public Health. Complaints regarding the Department of Public Health or about nursing homes can be filed with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. These agencies have the right to fine nursing homes and their staff, to revoke licenses and to impose other penalties for violations of the residents' rights. Complaints alleging "jeopardy" to a resident are supposed to be investigated within two days. Other complaints are investigated "as time permits" and this may take several months. The Department of Public Health issues written acknowledgment of complaints and contacts the complainant during the investigation. The complainant also receives a copy of the investigational report. If violations or deficiencies of federal or state law are identified, the nursing home must submit a plan for corrective action. The Department of Public Health may also order corrective action impose sanctions including fines and license suspension or revocation.

Your complaint letter should specify what corrective action you feel needs to be taken, such as requesting a Department of Health order requiring the home to provide additional staff. Specifically note if you believe the resident is in "jeopardy" of physical or mental harm if immediate corrective action is not taken and state what future harm may occur.

Kansas personal injury lawyer / attorney representing clients in Emporia, KS, continuum care accident law firm - If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation regarding your personal injury case, please contact the Eschmann & Pringle, P.A at (800) 952-0566 or complete our inquiry form.