If a nursing home does not promptly receive a patient’s call, then yes, it can be considered nursing home neglect. The federal Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA) of 1987 explains the guidelines expected to govern the quality and level of care that nursing home residents receive. The legislation also details what services that residents of nursing homes have a right to expect while living in a facility charged with their care.
Among these rights are the right to treatment with dignity and respect and have their medical, physical, and social needs adequately met. They are also supposed to be free of any form of mistreatment and express their needs to facility staff as they make their own decisions.
Patient neglect in nursing homes can come in many different forms. For example, turning off a resident’s call light and failing to act upon an individual’s request is an example of neglect that can take place in a nursing facility.
Abuse Versus Neglect in Nursing Homes
There can be a fine line between what is deemed abuse and what is deemed neglect of patients in nursing homes.
Examples of Abuse
The act of physical abuse of a nursing home resident generally includes:
- Striking with objects
- Yelling in anger
- Physical or chemical (use of medications) restraints
- Sexual assault (from rape to unwanted touching)
Examples of Neglect
Neglect is considered the maltreatment of residents in nursing homes and may include:
- Not changing residents when they are wet or after an episode of incontinence
- Ignoring bedridden residents
- Not providing oral/dental care
- Not giving residents regular baths
- Not offering tasks or activities to residents who want to maintain their independence
- Not administering medication when needed or providing proper wound care
- Not doing scheduled toileting or helping residents when they ask
- Not keeping residents fed or hydrated
- Not responding to a resident’s call for help or assistance
Nursing home neglect may be more challenging to identify than abuse in some instances. But instances of neglect are common in U.S. nursing homes.
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Level of Care and Liability
Nursing homes must provide a certain level of care that is reasonable and corresponds to current industry standards for residents. This is one reason why the NHRA was established to protect the rights of nursing home residents. If your loved one is suffering an injury or has died as a result of a nursing home staff member not responding to their call in a timely manner, the facility could be held legally responsible.
Negligence in Nursing Home Liability Cases
The failure to use reasonable care at the level required by law or current industry standards might mean negligence on the part of the nursing home or staff member. To prove negligence, several factors must be met in a claim or lawsuit against the facility or employee.
- The nursing home or employee had a legal duty to provide reasonable care to the resident.
- The nursing home or employee breached that duty of care.
- The breach resulted in injury or harm to that resident (e.g., bedsores, malnutrition, infection that leads to sepsis).
- That injury resulted in damages and losses to the resident (e.g., medical bills, mental anguish, emotional distress, pain and suffering).
If your elderly loved one died as a result of nursing home neglect, you might be entitled to receive compensation for damages and losses in a wrongful death lawsuit. A personal injury attorney knowledgeable in elder abuse law can help guide you through the legal options available to you during this difficult time.
Reporting Abuse and Neglect
If you suspect your loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect as a result of their call not being responded to in a timely manner, you can report it. You can discuss it with the nurse supervisor or top administrators at the facility.
If that does not work, you can visit Eldercare Locator for resources that may help. Of course, if you believe your family member or another resident is in immediate danger, contact local law enforcement right away.
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Call Ben Crump Law, PLLC, Today
Our seniors deserve dignity and respect in their golden years. When you entrust a nursing home facility to care for your elderly loved one, and they violate that trust, you might be able to take legal recourse and hold the facility responsible.
Patient neglect is not only immoral; it is illegal. If you believe your loved one suffered injuries or died as a result of a caregiver not responding to their call in a timely manner in a nursing home, call Ben Crump Law, PLLC, today at (800) 959-1444, for a free case evaluation. We do not shy away from the tough cases, and we can seek justice on your loved one’s behalf.