Nursing home: two words that mean a number of things. Nobody really wants to go into one, but for someone who needs a high level of medical attention, a nursing home may be their only option. If you’re entrusted with someone’s care, it’s a decision you don’t take lightly. Learn when it’s a good time to get a nursing home lawyer involved below.
A nursing home is a place where you trust your loved ones to will be safe and well cared for. But there may come a day where “taking care of them” might mean hiring a lawyer, too.
Nursing homes have a duty to make arrangements for each patient based on their medical history, including preventing falls and other accidents. Many don’t have the staff to care for the number of patients they have. Many of these employees may have insufficient training for helping and handling elderly or infirm patients, leading to falls that can cause serious, debilitating injury.
A nursing home can be held liable if a patient was injured due to:
- Failing to prevent injury hazards and keep the premises relatively safe
- Negligence in hiring/supervising an employee who ultimately caused harm to a patient
- Negligence in supervising patients who have balance issues and are at risk for falls
- Failing to maintain sufficient health & safety protocols for cleanliness and sanitation in the facility
- Substandard medical care that causes harm to a resident or is inadequate for the patient’s needs
Patient Injuries And Abuse
While there are many well-run facilities, some nursing homes have experienced problems with:
- Physical abuse (including sexual abuse)
- Patient injury/infections
- Mental/Emotional abuse
- Financial exploitation
- Medical malpractice
- Excessive medication
And other mistreatments of residents by both staff and family members.
These types of allegations should not be taken lightly. A recent report by the AARP states that despite federal law requiring nursing homes to report any incidents of mistreatment to local police, Medicare hasn’t enforced this requirement. West Virginia requires abuse reports to be filed and has mandatory reporting requirements for suspected abuse by:
- Law enforcement officers
- Medical/dental professionals
- Religious or spiritual healers/leaders (including Christian Science practitioners)
- Social or mental health workers
- Nursing home or residential facility employees
Nursing home residents may be afraid to say anything or discuss any abuse for fear of retaliation or additional abuse. Even though West Virginia has a considerable number of laws surrounding nursing home abuse, many incidents still go unreported to police.
If you suspect abuse or neglect, contact the West Virginia Adult Protective Services 24/7 hotline immediately at 1-800-352-6513. (For financial exploitation, there is also 1-866-241-5062.) Your privacy is protected under West Virginia’s WV Code §49-6A-6, and you’re protected from criminal liability. Nursing homes may not discharge a patient or discriminate against them for making a report. (A PDF of APS’s current policy for nursing home issues is available here.)
Filing For Medicare?
If you or your loved one needs to file for Medicare to continue in a facility long-term, the nursing home may offer you the name or names of attorneys they “work with” in order to expedite the application. Be aware that one or more of these “helpful attorneys” may already represent the nursing home, creating a conflict of interest. Find an independent, objective attorney who can help you through the process of Medicare, and any other issues you may have with a nursing home.
Why Hire An Attorney?
Nursing homes are frequently run by large corporations, and won’t bother with small, individual complaints. They may have complicated procedures for handling abuse and neglect complaints, and it could take years to see any remedies. Like a lawsuit against any large company, you’ll need help. From filing the correct forms to finding the right governing entity, a nursing home lawyer can help you cut through the bureaucracy that keeps you at arm’s length and prevents you from helping your loved one.
If he or she is in a nursing home, they may need all the help you can give them. Hire an attorney who has specific experience dealing with nursing home problems.
Defending The Defenseless
Nursing home residents may not be able to speak for themselves, and depend on you. If you’ve already complained to a nursing home administrator, or the state of West Virginia, and still can’t get any answers, it’s time to up your game. Contact The Love Law Firm today at (304) 344-5683 to schedule your free consultation. (You can also email us or use our convenient contact form.) You deserve some answers, and we stand ready to help you get them.