Nursing home inadequacy is a shocking problem that is much more prevalent in the United States today than you might think. For example, of the 1.4 million people that living in nursing homes in the United States, 37% of these facilities were deemed to be operating at low standards by surveyors. This largely boils down to the fact that 70% of nursing homes today are operated as for-profit institutions that often cut back on staffing, equipment, and programs in order to raise their profit margins which may, in turn, lead to serious injuries or even deaths.
While there is currently nothing explicitly illegal about operating care facilities as profiteering businesses, the situation does open up quite a bit of different avenues for illegal negligence and inadequacies in these facilities. For example, a report by the American Association of Justice found that over 90% of nursing home facilities are understaffed, while only 1 out of 14 nursing home abuse cases is ever reported to the proper authorities. This dire situation begs the question: When is it time to talk to a lawyer?
As with many things, it is never a bad idea to consult with a lawyer if you feel as though you or your loved one are unjustly suffering. Most lawyers offer free consultations that will help you or your loved one work through the legal obstacles that may be in your way to receive just compensation. Unfortunately, considering that these facilities are ‘businesses’ that are technically entitled to a profit, the makings of nursing home abuse are usually not enough to file a legal claim in most cases. That is to say, there needs to be real and provable harm to an elder within one of these facilities before the matter may be taken up legally.
The situation becomes doubly complicated as elders who suffer from a variety of different conditions such as dementia are less able to understand and communicate abuse that is happening to them. That means that you have to be observant. If you notice anything from bed sores, to sexually transmitted diseases, serious bruising or bleeding, broken bones, unusually withdrawn behavior around staff or in general, an unexplained loss of financial assets, changes to power of attorney, rapid weight loss or any other suspicious observations, it may be time to take legal action.
Ultimately, there is a widespread inadequacy in the nursing home industry as these facilities are generally more concerned with making a profit rather than providing the best care possible for their patients, and as the legal standards of today generally require for provable harm to have occurred before legal action can be taken, signs of inadequacy often cannot be legally addressed until a provable act of harm has occurred. Still, consulting with a lawyer is never a bad idea as many offer free consultations that can better inform you about the specifics of your circumstances and your available options.
So, when is it time to talk to a lawyer about nursing home inadequacy? The moment you suspect that real abuse and harm is occurring to you or your loved one as a result of the nursing home conditions. Do not be afraid to consult with a lawyer to discuss your options in relation to the specific elder laws that exist in your locality. It can make all the difference.
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