The “New Jersey Nursing Home Responsibilities and Rights of Residents Act” N.J.S.A. 30:13-1 et seq., states that a nursing home patient shall “have the right to a safe and decent living environment and considerate and respectful care that recognizes the dignity and individuality of the resident.” This declaration of state law continues by stating this includes “the right to expect and receive appropriate assessment, management and treatment of pain as an integral component of that person’s care consistent with sound nursing and medical practices.”
In response to widespread neglect and abuse in nursing homes, the United States Congress enacted legislation that requires nursing homes participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs to comply with requirements for the standard of care. This Federal law is part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA) and is also known as the Nursing Home Reform Act. To participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, nursing homes must be in compliance with the federal requirements and “provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental and psychosocial well being of each resident with a written plan of care…” United States Code of Federal Regulations, 42 C.F.R. 483 et seq. New Jersey state law and Federal OBRA regulations require that nursing homes maintain and improve the health of their residents.
We trust our loved ones to the care of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, only later to find out that the facilities do not always provide our loved ones with the care they need. The nursing home staff, or absence of enough well trained and supervised staff often fail to monitor the residents and fail to provide appropriate care which can result in:
• Bed Sores and Ulcers
• Falls and Fractures
• Sepsis and Other Infections
• Malnutrition and Dehydration
• Medication and Prescription Errors
• Physical Abuse and Even Sexual Abuse
• Emotional and Mental Abuse
• Employee Neglect
• Hazardous and Unsanitary Conditions
• Abuse of Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and other Dementia
• Wandering and Elopement
• Medical Neglect which includes not informing the family of any health changes or concerns
In some instances our family members and loved ones die due to inadequate and poor treatment. Pursuing nursing home litigation often means that other people won’t have to suffer the same dangers and indignities that your loved one endured. By standing up for the rights of individual victims of nursing home abuse and neglect, we are sending a message to nursing homes to treat their residents well. Nursing home negligence resulting in neglect or abuse of vulnerable adults can generally be traced to corporate greed where administrators chase profits at the expense of patients. Most abuse and neglect incidents can be traced to negligence in staffing. Aides and nurses may be poorly paid and overworked; administrators may not have performed adequate criminal and employment background checks on staff; or training and supervision may be inadequate or non-existent.
Most nursing home residents are in a nursing home or assisted living facility specifically because they are unable to care for themselves. Nursing home staff members are required to make regular observations about a resident’s health, and the administration must inform the family or physician if there is any decline in health, including weight loss, apathy, mobility, and incontinence. The expectation should not be that patients will suffer accidents and declining health. Nursing home staff and administrators are required to evaluate each patient on a regular basis, identify risks, and take special measures to avoid incontinence incidents, bed falls, wandering, bedsores, dehydration, malnutrition, and other common nursing home illnesses and injuries. If there is any appreciable decline in the health of the resident, the facility must notify the family and obtain medical care as needed. Pharmaceutical errors are common despite in-place safety measures which are supposed to prevent mistakes. Nurses are expected to check and double-check medications before giving them to patients and record prescriptions in a medical administration record (MAR). Nurses should be diligent in administering patient medications. They should not be so overworked that they must rush, resulting in making a patient more sickly, even fatally ill, as safety standards are ignored.
A nursing home has an obligation to each resident to take care of that person and address his or her needs—physical and psychological. Family members who keep lines of communication open with caregivers, nurses and aides will often identify risk, preventing injuries and catching situations early enough to turn them around. As the responsible party, you have a right to access caretakers and reports. If you have any suspicions that a vulnerable adult is subject to abuse or neglect in a nursing home, assisted living facility or at the hands of a home health care aide, demand a meeting with the director of nursing and insist on immediate changes in patient care. Begin keeping a record of your suspicions. You may even set up a recorder in the patient’s room. One of the most important steps you can take is contacting an attorney who has experience with nursing home care and the many issues that can arise. The Law Offices of Andres & Berger, P.C. regularly handle nursing home cases and will be able to answer your questions including filing appropriate legal action, if necessary.
If a loved one has suffered an injury because he/she is being abused or neglected please don’t hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Andres & Berger, P.C. today for a FREE CONSULTATION.
The Law Offices of Andres & Berger, P.C. are located in South Jersey but because of our outstanding reputation we commonly represent clients throughout the entire state of New Jersey including but not limited to Camden County, Burlington County, Gloucester County, Atlantic County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Salem County, Mercer County, Ocean County, Monmouth County, Cherry Hill, Voorhees, Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Mt. Holly, Moorestown, Woodbury, Williamstown, Pennsauken, Atlantic City, Wildwood, Hammonton, Vineland, Berlin, Atco, Collingswood, Turnersvile, Glassboro, Washington Township, and Camden.
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