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Nursing Home Abuse & Negligence

[Photo of Elderly Woman]With the advent of new medical technology, people are living longer, more productive lives and the average age of the American population continues a steady increase. Sometimes these senior citizens end up in nursing homes because their family members cannot adequately take care of them. When an adult child makes the tough decision to send a parent to a nursing home, the child should be able to trust that those managing the facility will take proper care of their loved one. Unfortunately, many nursing home residents suffer from abuse and neglect. For those individuals in the Maryland area who have experienced the trauma of nursing home abuse or neglect, the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers will gladly assist you with properly handling a legal claim against those responsible for the poor treatment of your loved one.

Most commonly, legal claims against nursing homes fall into one of three categories: abuse, neglect, or medical malpractice. The federal government has provided a precise definition of nursing home abuse. According to 42 CFR § 488.301, abuse is defined as “the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain or mental anguish.” This definition of abuse can include anything from sexual to mental abuse.

Neglect differs from abuse. Abuse implies that someone took direct action and intended to cause harm to a patient. Neglect, on the other hand, is the result of inaction or indifference. It is the result of negligence on the part of an individual or an organization. The appropriate legal standard for determining nursing home neglect is the reasonable caregiver standard, which asks whether the person in question acted in the same way that a reasonable caregiver under the circumstances would have acted.

Perhaps, the most common form of neglect in a nursing home is failure to turn periodically a nursing home resident in bed who is unable to turn on his or her own. When that happens, the person may develop bedsores, which are also known as pressure sores or decubitus ulcer. Bedsores are lesions caused by unrelieved pressure on soft tissues overlying a bony prominence. The pressure partially or completely obstructs the blood flow to the soft tissue, resulting in the death of the tissue. There are four stages of bedsores, depending on their severity. The most severe stage of such sores, Stage IV, is where the sore extends all the way into the muscle, tendon or even bone.

Medical malpractice cases arise in the nursing home context because health care providers and physicians play such an important role in the nursing home environment. Sometimes, substandard medical care is delivered because there are too few doctors and nurses in a particular nursing home to provide proper care. At other times, the doctors and nurses that are required to watch over nursing home residents simply do not provide the quality care perspective of them and their actions can then become the basis for a medical malpractice or medical error claim.

In Maryland, nursing homes are monitored by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Nursing homes are governed by the Code of Maryland Regulations, a set of strict regulations that all of the licensed nursing homes in the state must abide by. One of the requirements of the Code says that Maryland nursing homes are to have set of policies and procedures in place that will prevent abuse and neglect of its residents. The failure to have these policies in place can serve as grounds for a lawsuit against the nursing home.

If you believe that a loved one at a nursing facility is being neglected or abused, it is likely that other residents are also being abused or neglected. You should not waste any time before speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you regarding the proper steps to take. If you are worried that an elderly friend or relative who is staying at a nursing home in Maryland or the Washington D.C. area is suffering from nursing home neglect or nursing home abuse, we invite you to call Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers today for a free, no obligation consultation so that we can assess the situation for you. You can reach Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen by e-mail, or call us, toll-free, at (800) 654-1949.

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