Nursing Home Abuse/ Negligence Lawyers with offices in Tucson and Yuma

In his September 2008 Report "Trends in Nursing Home Deficiencies and Complaints", Daniel R. Levinson, the Inspector General of the United States Department of Health & Human Services stated:

“In each of the past 3 years, over 91 percent of nursing homes surveyed were cited for deficiencies and a greater percentage of for-profit nursing homes were cited for deficiencies than not-for-profit and government nursing homes. During those same years, the most common deficiency categories cited were quality of care, resident assessment, and quality of life. Additionally, 17 percent of nursing homes surveyed in 2007 were cited for actual harm or immediate jeopardy deficiencies, and 3.6 percent were cited for substandard quality-of-care deficiencies”

Elder abuse or neglect in a nursing home or assisted living facility is a fear many aging Americans face. Many residents are frail, vulnerable and incapacitated, and depend upon the employees and staff to meet their most basic needs. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are often understaffed or use inadequately trained personnel. As a result, residents are ignored, fall and suffer broken bones, head injuries, bed sores or maladies. Residents not properly supervised can wander from the facility and be injured or killed.

 In 1965, with the adoption of the Medicare and Medicaid legislation, the federal government set out federal nursing home regulations. Many of these regulations are promulgated by the Health Care Financing Administration and are administered by the states. Congress also classified the facilities as Skilled Nursing Facilities and Intermediate Care Facilities, each with standards. Any facility which accepts Medicare or Medicaid funds must abide by the minimum standards for the care of residents. In 1980 and again in 1987, the nursing home regulations were updated under the Omnibus Budget  Reconciliation Acts of 1980 and 1987.  In spite of these regulations, as noted by the Inspector General, substandard care of residents has become a growing problem.

Elderly residents are being abused, physically, emotionally and financially while under the care of nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Abuse or neglect may also be occurring in their own home by hospice employees or assistance nurses. The abuse may be as a result of neglect or it may be the result of an intentional act.

You and your family have legal rights that not only protect you, but others as well. In the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, Congress set out the rights of residents in these facilities. Arizona has also adopted protections for its citizens.

Arizona law states an incapacitated or vulnerable adult whose life or health has been endangered or injured by neglect, abuse or exploitation may file a lawsuit against any person or corporation that has been employed or assumed the duty to provide care for an incapacitated or vulnerable adult. If liable, they can be ordered to pay "actual and consequential damages, as well as punitive damages, costs of suit and reasonable attorney fees” to those persons injured by these types of conduct.  

If you or your elderly loved one has been neglected, abused, or injured while in the care of a nursing home or other healthcare facility, contact Shultz & Rollins, Ltd. today to set up a free confidential consultation and preliminary case evaluation. 

Common Questions about Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility Abuse or Neglect.

What is considered neglect?
Neglect is defined as the failure to provide services essential to a person’s health and safety, such as food, personal hygiene, patient supervision and medical care. Whether the failure is due to carelessness or an intentional act generally determines whether it constitutes neglect or abuse.

What signs should I look for if I suspect neglect or abuse?
Signs of neglect or abuse may be physical or emotional. Suspicious, sudden or unexplained changes in physical or emotional conditions may be an indication of neglect or abuse. Any of the following should be investigated carefully:

  • Pressure sores (Bedsores or decubitis ulcers)
  • Falls
  • Unexplained bruises or injuries
  • Significant or sudden weight loss  (malnutrition)
  • Unsanitary conditions or poor personal hygiene
  • Resident appears over-medicated  
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Unwillingness to talk about physical or emotional condition
  • Staff discouraging visitation by friends or family
  • Staffing shortages
  • Unexplained or Unexpected death

What if the facility is owned by a governmental agency?
 Cases against the government usually require the timely filing of two seperate documents. As in most cases, any case against the government must be filed within a specified period of time (called the statute of limitations) otherwise the ability to sue may be lost forever. However, these cases generally also require a second filing that gives the appropriate governmental agency notice of the claim within a specified period of time. If you believe you have a claim against a governmental agency, we encourage you to contact an attorney immediately to discuss these deadlines so you do not lose your rights by failing to file timely.

Can nursing homes and assisted living facilities be liable for their employee’s negligence?
 Facilities, as well as their employees, can be held responsible for negligent or abusive care which causes injury to or the death of a resident.

What damages can be recovered in a neglect or abuse injury or death case?
The parties responsible for the neglect and/or abuse injuries or death can be required to pay damages. A seriously injured plaintiff may be entitled to recover:
Medical expenses (past and future)
Loss of income (past and future)
Loss of earning capacity
Past and future pain, suffering and emotional distress
Loss of consortium
And, depending upon the circumstances, attorney’s fees and punitive damages.

If a person dies because of neglect or abuse, in addition to attorney’s fees and punitive damages, the survivors may recover monetary damages for their economic losses such as lost financial support and funeral expenses as well as their emotional distress damages for loss of love, society and companionship.

What should I do if I suspect negligence or abuse has occurred?
Numerous health problems and/or deaths have occurred because of neglect and abuse. If you suspect that you or your family member has suffered from neglect or abuse while a resident of a nursing home or assisted living facility, prompt intervention can prevent further injuries. The problem should immediately be brought to the attention of the facility administrator, and if the problems continue then government and legal assistance should be sought. Contact the Arizona Attorney General’s office, Arizona Department of Health Services and Adult Protective Services to report nursing home or assisted living facility neglect or abuse. Attorneys experienced in nursing home neglect or abuse  cases can assist you with understanding and enforcing your rights.
 If you have any questions regarding nursing home or assisted living facility neglect or abuse, contact Shultz & Rollins, Ltd. today to set up a free confidential consultation and preliminary case evaluation. 

LINKS:
Arizona Attorney General
Arizona Department of Health Services
Adult Protective Services

To schedule a free confidential consultation and preliminary case evaluation to see if your case is appropriate for our firm to handle call us


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