Columbia Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Lawyer
Medicare’s website lists 23 nursing homes in Columbia with ratings from five stars to one star in terms of health inspections, staffing ratios, and quality of resident care. Of the 188 nursing homes in South Carolina, 11 are listed as having been recently cited for abuse. One of those cited is a four-star facility. The sad truth is that abuse and neglect can happen anywhere, even in a nursing home that is otherwise highly rated. No matter where it happens or why, abuse and neglect in a nursing home are never acceptable. We think you would surely agree, especially if it happens to you or a family member.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by nursing home negligence or elder abuse, our Columbia nursing home abuse lawyers at Simmons Law Firm can help. Over the years, we have asserted the rights of nursing home patients and their families throughout South Carolina, and we are ready to stand up for you and your family and hold nursing homes accountable for the harm they have caused or allowed to occur under their roof. Call us for immediate assistance.
Why Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Happens
According to Medicare, nursing home abuse involves the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain or mental anguish. It can be physical, verbal, sexual, or mental/emotional. Neglect, meanwhile, is commonly defined as the failure to provide adequate medical care, personal care, mental health treatment or rehabilitation, or assistance with the various activities of daily living necessary to keep residents from suffering physical harm, mental anguish or mental illness.
Most Columbia nursing homes exist to provide care and treatment for those most in need, and most nurses and other staff members who choose to work in nursing homes are qualified, caring, and diligent people. But nursing homes also exist to make a profit, and tight budgets mean poor staffing ratios of nurses to patients, as well as understaffing of custodians, cafeteria workers, and other caretakers responsible for maintaining an adequate quality of care. Workers at an understaffed facility simply can’t keep up with the demand to meet the needs of all the residents on a daily basis.
That’s one way to look at negligence or neglect, but there’s a darker side too. Employees who aren’t as committed to their job or their patients as others neglect their duties not because they are overworked but because they can’t deal with the stress of the environment. These workers might overmedicate residents not for therapeutic reasons but to make them easier to manage. They might leave residents isolated or immobile for long periods, or neglect to provide for their daily needs when it comes to adequate nutrition, health care and hygiene.
Even worse, some employees might take out their frustrations on the residents, including actual physical assault. Others use physical restraints, isolation, or withhold food or water as forms of punishment or to modify behavior. These actions are entirely unacceptable, and nursing homes have a duty to properly screen job applicants and properly supervise staff to make sure such abuse never occurs at their facility.
Results of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Columbia nursing home residents suffer a variety of ailments and injuries due to nursing home negligence, including:
- Bedsores/Pressure Sores – Residents who are left to sit for too long in a chair or lie in bed for too long can develop painful pressure ulcers that can become infected, open wounds and can even prove fatal. Nurses and staff are trained and know to shift or turn immobile patients regularly and to make sure mobile residents get the movement they need to stay healthy. Staff also should know the signs of a developing pressure sore and make sure it is properly treated and healed.
- Falls – Falls are the leading cause of accidental injury and death in adults over 65 years old. Properly equipped facilities will have guardrails and ensure floor surfaces are not slippery or obstructed, and they will have sufficient staffing to help residents move about the facility and get in and out of bed safely.
- Medication Errors – Having proper protocols, procedures and routines in place can help ensure that residents get the right medications at the right times. Common nursing home medication errors include giving the wrong prescription to a patient, failing to give residents their medication, failing to properly consider a patient’s medical history or drug interactions when prescribing a new medicine, or prescribing or administering the wrong dosage. Overmedication also occurs at an alarming rate in nursing homes.
- Malnutrition – Malnourished or dehydrated residents are at serious risk of debilitating physical and mental health conditions that can be fatal if allowed to progress. Nursing homes are required by federal law to ensure residents receive adequate nutrition to maintain an acceptable body weight, enough appropriate fluids to stay properly hydrated, and to treat malnutrition or dehydration when any symptoms appear.
Simmons Law Firm Is Here to Help Residents and Their Families Stop Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect in Columbia
Signs that a resident might be abused or neglected include symmetrical bruising on the upper arms, wrists, or ankles, any other unexplained bruises or other injuries, bedsores, confusion, weight loss, mood or personality changes, or signs that a resident is fearful or reluctant to talk about conditions at the nursing home. The staff and administration might say these are signs of age-related dementia or natural physical frailty, but they are signs worthy of investigation, and we can help you get to the bottom of what is going on. You need action now to stop any abuse or neglect that is happening; Simmons Law Firm can help.
Residents have a legal right to meet in private with a family member or lawyer and discuss how they are being treated. Be wary of a facility that tries to keep this from occurring. If you or a loved one are being abused or neglected in a nursing home in Columbia or South Carolina, Simmons Law Firm will take the proper steps and swift action to make sure any abuse or neglect stops, that residents get the adequate care they need, and that they are fully compensated for any needless harm they have suffered. Call now for a free consultation or immediate assistance at 803-779-4600 or toll-free at 888-715-8818, or contact us online.