In December 2019, in one of the largest verdicts ever against a nursing home, a jury of New Yorkers returned a verdict totaling over $5 million against the Northern Manhattan Nursing Home in New York City.

New York Supreme Court Judge Honorable Lucy Billings declared that Northern Manhattan Nursing Home was negligent regarding the medical needs of a resident named Frederick Smith, leading to his death. It’s an example of what can happen if nursing home abuse isn’t reported. If you know of a loved one that was abused in a nursing home you need to reach out to a New York personal injury attorney.

Placing a loved one in a nursing home can be one of the most difficult decisions a family makes. Abuse and neglect happen far too frequently in New York nursing homes. While most nursing homes in our state are professionally managed and staffed, others are not.

HOW WIDESPREAD IS NURSING HOME ABUSE?

A study conducted by the New York City Department for the Aging and the Cornell Medical Center found that over a quarter-million older adults are the victims of elder abuse every year in New York State, and the researchers also believe that elder abuse is grossly underreported.

Understaffing and a failure to give staffers proper and sufficient training are usually the root causes of negligence and abuse of the elderly in nursing homes. Nursing homes, of course, exist to make profits, but owners cannot put profits above the security and well-being of the residents.

WHAT CONSTITUTES NURSING HOME ABUSE?

If you have an elderly loved one who resides at a New York nursing home facility, your family should be in constant communication with the staff, make frequent surprise visits, and stay alert to any signs of mistreatment, negligence, or abuse. Nursing home abuse includes:

dehydration and malnutrition
emotional, verbal, or physical abuse
failing to monitor residents
medical negligence
theft and financial exploitation
ulcers or bed sores
unnecessary restraint

SOME TIPS FOR SPOTTING NURSING HOME ABUSE

Before you place a loved one in a New York nursing home, be certain the facility is fully staffed. Some nursing homes simply do not hire enough personnel. Federal guidelines require nursing homes to have sufficient personnel, but the owners of a home determine what is sufficient.

Family members should remain alert for bruises, cuts, abrupt attitude changes, a sudden weight loss, or a sudden decline in the overall health of the elderly loved one.

“Pressure” ulcers or bedsores, for example, are clear signs of neglect. These are lesions that develop on the skin after unrelieved, long-term pressure on particular bones. That pressure reduces the blood flow to these areas, and the surrounding tissue dies and emerges as a bed sore.

Bed sores usually develop on or near the coccyx (tailbone), the sacrum, ankles, heels, and elbows. Nursing home caregivers can prevent bedsores merely by routinely turning residents on their beds to reduce pressure at any single spot. Neglect of this type is a sign of real trouble.

DENTAL CARE AND MALNUTRITION

Dental care for nursing home residents is a serious concern. Due to understaffing and inadequate training, some residents in nursing homes receive inadequate dental care – and some receive no dental care whatsoever. Residents may suffer from cavities, gum disease, and other problems.

For elderly persons, you may know that poor dental care often quickly leads to serious health conditions such as pneumonia, a leading cause of death among nursing home residents. If your loved one must enter a nursing home, be sure that you know what dental care will be provided.

Malnutrition is one of the most common health problems in nursing homes, and an elderly person may be malnourished without any apparent weight loss. Constant fatigue, weakness, or depression may be indications of malnutrition.

THE GROWING PROBLEM OF FINANCIAL EXPLOITATIO

Financial exploitation is a growing problem at nursing homes. It includes the theft of jewelry or cash but may also include unauthorized check cashing, signature forgery, and intimidating or tricking a resident into signing a contract, will, or another suspicious legal or financial document.

Nursing home residents who suffer with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s are the most vulnerable. If you see any indication of financial exploitation or any other abuse or neglect, or should you even suspect a loved one is suffering abuse in a nursing home, you must take action.

WHAT STEPS SHOULD FAMILIES TAKE?

If you have evidence of neglect, or if you are persuaded that a loved one is being abused or is now at risk, let a New York personal injury attorney explain your legal options. Your lawyer can determine if the police should be notified and help you take other appropriate legal measures.

If you see indications of neglect or abuse, document that neglect or abuse to the best of your ability. Take pictures, write down statements from your loved one, nurses, and attendants. The more evidence that you can offer, the greater your chances of prevailing with a legal action.

If you seek damages from a nursing home with a personal injury lawsuit, a conviction for a crime like battery or forgery only strengthens your case. You will need a personal injury lawyer’s insights and recommendations from the moment you first suspect abuse.

WHAT IS “VICARIOUS” LIABILITY?

When your family and your New York personal injury attorney can prove that a nursing home or nursing home employee has neglected or abused your elderly loved one, the employee or facility can be held liable with a personal injury lawsuit.

And under the legal doctrine of vicarious liability, a nursing home may be held accountable for an employee’s negligence even if the management or owner did not direct the actions of the caregiver.

Anything that violates a nursing home resident’s rights, puts that resident at risk, or denies a nursing home resident’s basic human dignity may be deemed nursing home abuse or neglect.

IF SOMEONE YOU LOVE MAY BE AT RISK …

When a victim’s lawsuit prevails – with an out-of-court settlement or with a jury verdict – the victim may be reimbursed for medical expenses along with compensation for personal pain and suffering. In some cases, punitive damages are awarded to deter abuse in the future.

Nothing, of course, could be more important than the safety and well-being of your loved ones. If someone you love may be at risk in a New York nursing home, do what’s right and consult a personal injury lawyer – who has nursing home abuse experience – at once.

Read one of our recent blogs here: IF YOU’VE BEEN IN AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING A TRAIN, HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW