Abuse and neglect of the elderly in nursing homes is a serious problem. The state of California data has indicated that almost 200,000 people are victims of elder abuse yearly, many of whom live in nursing homes. Unfortunately, one recent tragic case brought the problem of potential nursing home neglect to the headlines when a patient died after CPR was not administered to her when she collapsed at a nursing home.
Our Costa Mesa injury attorneys understand that all patients are entitled to certain rights, such as dignity, safety and respect. Those who are considering a move to a nursing home or who have relatives living in a nursing home should understand the signs of abuse as well as how to find a safe nursing home environment.
Patient Dies After Nurse Refused to Perform CPR
According to an article in USA Today, an 87-year-old woman recently collapsed at Glenwood Gardens in Bakersfield, California and was barely breathing. The nurse called 911 and when directed to perform CPR by the 911 operator, stated that it was against policy for a staff member to administer CPR. When questioned by the 911 operator, the nurse said no one was there who could help her.
The woman in the nursing home died as a result of the incident. Amid the public outcry, the executive director said the nurse followed the protocol of the establishment, which is to call 911 and wait for help to arrive. He later stated that the "No CPR" policy is agreed to when a patient is admitted. However, that policy does not apply to the facility's assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.
In light of this tragedy, it is even more important to be vigilant when agreeing to policies at a long term care facility. If you do not understand all the paperwork, it would be wise to consult an attorney.
Tips for Finding a Nursing Home
Abuse and neglect can happen at any nursing home, but there are some important things to know so you can protect yourself or your loved ones.
According to the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, California was the first state to make admission contracts written by nursing homes illegal.
As such, the first thing to be aware of is that there is now a Standard Admission Agreement developed by the California Department of Public Health, which took effect on April 6, 2012. The form can be found in several languages on the California Department of Public Health website. The use of the standard agreement should hopefully help to prevent situations where a home absolves itself of the responsibility to provide basic care for residents, such as providing CPR in an emergency.
Before signing the Standard Admission Agreement, you should read all of it carefully. You'll want to ensure that it has not been altered, because some homes may try to make changes even though it is illegal for a nursing home to do so.
You should also make sure all your questions have been answered thoroughly before selecting a nursing home.
Warning Signs of Abuse or Neglect
Once your loved one is admitted, you need to remain diligent to make sure there is no abuse or neglect. In a publication from the state of California titled "A Citizen's Guide to Preventing and Reporting Elder Abuse", some warning signs to look for include:
- A call light that is not functioning or not present
- Development or worsening of pressure sores
- Excessive weight loss
- Bilateral bruising
- Unusual or recurring scratches, bruises, skin tears or welts
- "Wrap around" bruises (bruises that typically encircle the arm)
- Any unusual bruises or burns that are incompatible with explanations
- Any injuries that reflect an outline of an object
- Hair that smells bad, is matted, or has patches missing
Lastly, if the patient is secretive, withdrawn, frightened or is hesitant to talk freely, that can also be a red flag that abuse may be occurring.
If you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected, contact HOWARD LAW P.C. for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call (800) 872-5925.