Nursing Home Abuse and Negligence in Maryland
It is not uncommon to hear distressing news about nursing home abuse victims across the country from time to time, but what if instead of reading about it online or watching it on the evening news, it was actually happening to you? Would you be mentally prepared for that? The answer to that question for most people is “no”, and it is quite understandably so. The thought of our loved ones suffering abuse at the hands of the very institutions that have a sworn duty to protect and care for them is just too much to bear for most.
Unfortunately, the sad reality is that our loved ones, who are either too old or sick to live alone and who we’ve committed to nursing care facilities expecting the highest quality of care to be provided to them, are not safe when one would think that should be the safest place for them to be. Nursing home abuse occurs at an alarming rate, and with a total of 228 nursing homes in Maryland—of which 45% of them are for-profit—it is wise to look for signs of abuse on our loved ones as often as they’re being visited.
Common signs of nursing home abuse to look out for includes bed sores, obvious cuts or abrasions, and emotional and anxiety issues. If you notice any of these on your loved ones, it is possible they are being abused, and the first thing you should do is contact a personal injury attorney. This is because filing a personal injury and or medical malpractice lawsuit against the nursing home will provide you with a means to hold them liable for the abuse, and serve as a deterrent to other nursing homes in Maryland to engage in similar activities.
Types of Nursing Home Abuse
As we mentioned above, bed sores, bodily cuts or abrasions and anxiety issues are common signs of nursing home abuse. If you notice any or all of these signs on your loved one then there is a chance they are being abused, and you can file a lawsuit against the institution. In order to succeed, however, you need to know which type of abuse your loved one was subjected to.
There are three main categories of nursing home abuse. These are the most prosecuted in medical malpractice and personal injury lawsuits and they are listed below, in no particular order; however, they each represent specific category of harm inflicted on the victim.
- Abuse: This is the most common type of nursing home abuse incidents across the United States and it is legally defined as the “willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish.” Examples of past cases that fall under abuse include assault and battery, sexual abuse, and confinement or unnecessary use of restraint on patients.
- Neglect: Another category of nursing home abuse is neglect, which is slightly different from abuse as described above. Neglect is considered to be “the ill-treatment of the victim and it is characterized by the failure of the nursing home caretaker to fulfil his or her obligations towards the victim.” These could include failure to provide food and water, failure to help prevent bed sores and infections, and failure to alert medical personnel to medical problems.
- Medical Malpractice: This is usually seen in cases where a doctor or specialized medical practitioner does not provide standard and/or adequate care to a nursing home resident. Examples of what will qualify as medical malpractice include errors in medication, surgical errors, and failure to diagnose a patient with a particular illness.
If you suspect your loved one has been subject one or more of the types of abuse outlined above then you need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in Maryland today. The sooner you start building your case and documenting evidence, the better the chances of your case being successful.
Nursing Home Laws in Maryland
Laws are put in place to act as a check for people and institutions to make sure the rights of every individual person is protected. Violating these laws, therefore, should come with serious consequences, and filing a lawsuit against such an establishment is the best course of action for not only bringing them to justice, but also to deter others from engaging in such misconduct.
While nursing homes in Maryland are monitored by The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, there are several nursing home abuse laws in Maryland that have been put in place to protect the rights of the nursing home residents. These laws can be found in the Adult Protective Services Act, Institutional Abuse Act, Long-Term Care Act and the Nursing Homes Act.
All of these legislations were developed with the goal of protecting nursing home residents from any form of abuse. They were also put in place to ensure that the rights of nursing home residents are acknowledged and respected.
Rights of Nursing Home Residents
Every American citizen has his or her own basic human rights, and that includes nursing home residents too; however, nursing home residents have specific rights recognized by both state (Maryland) and federal laws. This is known as the Resident’s Bill of Rights, and a violation of these could cost the nursing home more than $10,000 per incident. The rights of a nursing home resident include:
- The right to receive information about the nursing home;
- The right to participate in their own care;
- The right to privacy and confidentiality;
- The right to be treated with consideration, respect, and dignity;
- The right to be free from physical, verbal, sexual and mental abuse;
- The right to receive visits from friends, family, advocates, ombudsmen, social services providers, and doctors, etc.;
- The right to make independent choices;
- The right to complain about problems without fear of retaliation;
- The right to examine their personal medical records; and,
- The right to a safe and secure transfer or discharge.
Additionally, the Code of Maryland Residents (COMAR) specifies the staff regulations that the facility must abide by. This includes having a licensed nurse available 24 hours a day to make sure each nursing resident:
- Receives their medications and diet as prescribed by the doctor;
- Receives rehabilitative nursing care as needed or as scheduled;
- Receives proper care to prevent decubitus ulcers and other deformities;
- Is kept comfortable, clean, and well-groomed at all times;
- Is protected from accident, injury, and infection; and,
- Is encouraged, assisted, and trained in self-care and group activities in order to remain social.
These regulations and laws are to ensure that each nursing home resident is well-cared for and given adequate attention. But if any of these laws are broken, or resident’s rights are violated, then there will be a penalty to pay. So, what happens when filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit in Maryland? The following section gives a brief overview of what to expect.
What to Expect When Filing a Nursing Home Abuse Lawsuit
When filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit in Maryland, it is important for you to be prepared with all the necessary and relevant information about the case you’re attempting to pursue. Just like other personal injury cases, the expertise of an experienced personal injury attorney cannot be understated.
Having an experienced lawyer at your side is even more important in a nursing home abuse case, considering the time-consuming process of filing a lawsuit and the fact that your case may not be backed by very strong evidence. With that in mind, the following can help ensure you have a higher chance of success in your case:
- Securing as many evidential documents as possible. This includes medical records, journals, letters, emails and pictures/videos of the physical damage caused by the abuse;
- Working as many of the nursing home staff as possible. This is a good way to get to close the ones who will be willing to testify on your behalf in court; and,
- Get help and information from medical personnel that shows the severity of the abuse sustained. They could be called in as expert witnesses depending on the relationship forged with them.
These little things can go a long way in helping you yield a successful case and justice for you or your loved one.
In conclusion, it is not an easy task to commit the care of your loved ones into the hands of strangers. Their profession means they should do their best to make sure residents are both comfortable and safe. It is nothing short of a tragedy if these professionals are the ones responsible abusing their elderly residents. If this happens, you need a personal injury attorney who will fight your case.
Do you suspect a loved one is being abused in their nursing home facility in Maryland? if so, then contact us today to discuss your options. We offer a free, no-strings-attached consultation that you can take advantage of by calling us right now.