When Nursing Homes Cause Harm

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Statistics compiled by the National Center on Elder Abuse  show that nearly nine out of ten nursing homes fail to provide adequate patient care and that more than a third of nursing homes have violated elder abuse laws. The Federal Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 defines abuse as purposefully inflicting injury to a nursing home patient and defines neglect as failing to provide necessary care. If your parent or loved one has suffered elder abuse in a nursing home, you may be able to sue for damages.

Georgia nursing home laws

Georgia law states that nursing home residents are entitled to:

  • Privacy — Including the right to prevent intrusions by closing their door or drawing their curtains
  • Freedom of choice — Residents must be permitted to practice religion or abstain from religious practices, manage their own finances and refuse medical or dental treatment
  • Healthy diet — Nursing homes must employ a registered dietician and each resident must receive meals that are suitable to their health needs
  • Freedom of movement — Using sedative medication or physical restraints requires physician authorization and can only be undertaken if less restrictive controls have failed

Steps following suspected nursing home abuse or neglect

According to Federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), if the danger is not imminent, but you suspect abuse or neglect, you should call Adult Protective Services (APS) to report the problem. When speaking with APS, you should provide as many details as possible regarding the perceived neglect or abuse, including information about the resident’s health conditions and whether you have heard of other instances of abuse. If APS believes that someone may have violated eldercare laws, they typically assign a caseworker to investigate. In cases of imminent danger, you should call 911 and report your concerns directly to the police.