While deciding to move an elderly loved one into a nursing home or retirement community can be a difficult decision, the reality is that it is often the best way to ensure that our relatives receive the care that they deserve. Unfortunately, the administrators and employees at these facilities don’t always provide the care and nursing to which our loved ones are entitled. Tragically, this can result in our elderly relatives suffering neglect or even abuse for which nursing home staff and administrators can be held liable, so if you believe that your loved one is being abused or neglected and have reported your concerns to the proper authorities, it is critical to contact an experienced Las Vegas nursing home abuse lawyer who can explain your legal options.
What is Elder Abuse?
Nevada law defines elder abuse as the intentional, knowing, or negligent act by any nursing home caregiver, or any other individual, that subjects a person who is 60 years of age or older to harm or the serious risk of harm. This type of conduct usually falls under one of five different categories, including:
- Abuse, which involves the willful and unjustified infliction of pain, injury, or mental distress, or the deprivation of food, clothing, shelter, or necessary services;
- Neglect, which includes the failure, whether intentional or unintentional, of a nursing home to provide food, shelter, clothing, personal hygiene services, or medical care to its patients;
- Self-neglect, which is not a crime, but includes the failure of elderly individuals to provide for their own needs as a result of an inability to do so;
- Exploitation, which includes an attempt by someone in a trust-based relationship with an elderly person to control that person’s assets, funds, or property, or to attempt to permanently deprive the individual of those assets through intimidation, undue influence, or deception; and
- Isolation, which involves intentionally preventing elderly individuals from receiving visitors, mail, or phone calls, unless medically or legally necessary, or using physical restraints to prevent visitation.
Nursing homes that are found to have committed one of these types of abuse can be held liable by the affected individual and his or her family members for related losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, property loss, and pain and suffering.
Quality of Care
Nursing homes in Nevada must also provide a certain standard of care to their patients. This includes ensuring that patients and residents have 24 hour access to health services related to:
- Diet; and
- Specialized healthcare.
As a part of these services, nursing homes must conduct comprehensive assessments of each of their patients and then based on those assessments, must take steps to maintain each individual’s nutritional health, which includes protein levels and weight. Proper hydration must be maintained at all times through the supply of sufficient fluids and if necessary, patients must be provided with a therapeutic diet. Nursing homes must also employ at least one full-time registered nurse who is licensed in the state. These same requirements mandate that nursing homes provide safe, comfortable, and sanitary environments for their charges, so as to prevent the transmission and development of disease and infection. All nursing homes in Nevada must also maintain programs for infection control and must take steps to ensure that patients don’t develop bed sores or pressure sores, unless such prevention is medically unavoidable.
Patient Plans of Care
Under Nevada law, nursing homes are required to provide patients and residents with comfortable, safe, and sanitary living conditions. This includes the right for each patient to receive a uniquely tailored comprehensive plan of care with specific timetables and measurable objectives that will facilitate their treatment. These plans are only considered valid if they are prepared by an interdisciplinary team made up of:
- The patient’s physician;
- A registered nurse who is responsible for the patient’s care; and
- Any nursing home employees who provide services to the patient.
Patients are also encouraged to take part in the creation of their own plans and are permitted to include their legal representatives and relatives in the proceedings.
Elder Abuse Training
In 2011, Nevada lawmakers passed a law requiring existing licensed nursing homes, facilities that provide intermediate care, and other special care facilities, as well as facilities that are applying for these licenses, to comply with a series of elder abuse training requirements. All new employees who work at these types of facilities must also undergo training on elder abuse, while existing employees, directors, and administrators must training on a yearly basis.
Signs of Elder Abuse
Unfortunately, despite the existence of these laws, many nursing homes fail to provide an adequate standard of care to residents and patients. In fact, one congressional report estimated that around 30 percent of nursing homes in the nation received citations for violating either state or federal regulations over the course of two years. For this reason, family members of nursing home residents are strongly encouraged to keep an eye out for signs of physical, mental, verbal, or emotional abuse, which can take a number of forms, including:
- Unexplained weight loss or other evidence of malnutrition or dehydration;
- Dislocated joints, fracture, welts, or bruises;
- Restraint marks;
- Untreated bed sores;
- Unexplained depression or nervousness;
- Insomnia; or
When evidence of this type of abuse can be collected and presented to a court, injured parties or their loved ones operating on their behalf, could recover damages compensating them for medical expenses related to treatment, nursing home costs and fees, the loss of any valuable personal property, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
Contact Our Las Vegas Nursing Home Abuse Legal Team
Although recovering monetary damages can never compensate a person for the abuse that he or she was forced to undergo while a patient at a nursing home, it can go a long way towards helping him or her start the road to recovery. To learn more about Nevada’s nursing home abuse laws and how they impact your own loved one’s rights, please call (702) 805-HELP and we’ll help you schedule a free consultation with the experienced nursing home abuse lawyers Las Vegas at Henness & Haight today.
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