For many of us, there is going to come a time when we or our family members require long-term residential care. When that day does come, we need to put our trust in the doctors and staff that they will take good care of us or our loved ones and treat us with the dignity, care, and respect to which we have a right. Unfortunately, health care providers and nursing home facilities sometimes do fail to provide the accepted standard of care. People that are in a nursing home are some of the most vulnerable members of our society, and therefore deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. If your elderly parent is being abused in a nursing facility, you may be able to file a lawsuit.
What Are the Warning Signs of Neglect?
If your elderly parent is being neglected or abused, he or she may be too scared or ashamed to tell you about the situation. Often times, the victim is threatened with some sort of punishment, such as physical violence or continuous bullying behavior, to convince them to keep quiet about the situation. It is up to you and your family, and anyone else you may trust, to be on the lookout for red flags in terms of nursing home neglect. These include:
- Slips and falls
- Bed sores
- Unexpected death
- Wandering from the nursing home
- Poor hygiene
- Lacerations, bruises or physical scars caused by someone else
- Fecal impaction
Nursing Home Care in Columbia, South Carolina
If your elderly mother or father has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, or you suspect there is abuse, and you would like to pursue a lawsuit, there are steps that must be taken to ensure you get the financial compensation you want to recover. Once you contact an experienced attorney, the process for collecting evidence and preparing the case will involve the below steps:
- Submitting Freedom of Information requests on the nursing home to figure out if it was involved in any other cases of abuse or neglect;
- Consulting experts to carefully evaluate the nursing home’s records to find out if the staff at the nursing home falsified or altered information
- Tracking down witnesses, which can include both former and current staff;
- Evaluating time cards and crosschecking them against when your mother or father’s incidents of abuse or injuries most likely occurred.
In South Carolina, nursing homes are licensed by the state and must follow strict federal and state regulations in terms of the care they offer their patients. What’s more, regular inspections and thorough record keeping are a must to ensure the nursing homes maintain an adequate and appropriate level of care. If you wish to bring a lawsuit against your parent’s nursing home for neglect or abuse, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control may be asked to initiate an investigation in terms of the allegations. Further, attorneys will acquire staffing information, records, and any available video footage and documentation to help build your case.
A Bill of Rights for Nursing Home Care in South Carolina
There are many nursing home residents, as well as their families, that are unaware of their rights under our state’s law. Residents of nursing homes have a right to expect quality treatment and care, and a very basic right to be treated with compassion and dignity. It is therefore required that all assisted living facilities clearly post a list known as the “resident’s bill of rights” where each resident can see it. Usually, the rights include:
- Physical rights – this includes to be free of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and also verbal abuse, including the use of any chemical or physical restraints for the convenience of the staff at the nursing home as opposed to the avoidance of self-harm.
- Medical rights – patients have the right to be kept informed of health status and medication. Relatives also have a right to be kept informed of any changes to their love one’s health status of impending release.
- Financial rights – nursing home patients have the right to handle their own money or to designate an individual to handle their finances. Patients and family members also have the right to have access to the facility’s financial statements and records, and all information about the facility’s fees.
- Right to privacy – all patients have the right to send and receive mail, share a room with a spouse, use the telephone, and keep their personal belongings.
If the patient’s bill of rights is not being upheld, you should contact a negligence attorney, since quick action can help to protect your elderly mother or father’s finances and health, and cease any further abuse.
How the State Gets Involved
In May 2014, a legislative bill was passed by the South Carolina Senate Medical Affairs Committee. The bill has been designed to allow nursing home residents to install electronic monitoring devices in their rooms. The bill was passed due to the high numbers of elderly neglect and abuse. The Senate Medical Affairs Committee thinks that by allowing the residents to install monitoring systems in their room, this will help lower the likelihood of neglect and abuse taking place inside a facility.
Talking to an Attorney
Even though the state does have laws in place, there are nursing homes that continue to break those laws. If a facility is caught breaking the law, it can have its license revoked, pay a fine, and even serve time in jail. Columbia, S.C. has laws in place for elderly long-term care and the state as a whole is doing what it can to enforce those laws.
However, if your elderly parent is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, you should speak to an attorney at the Jeffcoat Firm who will help you investigate the extent of the abuse or neglect and guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit along with educating you about you and your mother or father’s rights.