Taking Steps to Prevent Nursing Home Neglect

Maryland nursing homes became the focus of intense public and political scrutiny after the Maryland Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Quality released its annual report in 2017. This investigatory report exposed a 34.4% increase in the number of resident complaints and facility self-reported incidents, including 1,749 quality of care allegations and 949 resident abuse allegations.

Defining Neglect

Nursing homes in Maryland are legally required to observe the protocols listed in the Code of Maryland Regulations. COMAR 10.07.0915 specifically states that nursing homes are responsible for implementing policies and procedures that function to protect residents from abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, because nursing home facilities are critically underfunded, elderly residents often live in poor conditions and receive substandard care from overwhelmed and underpaid caretakers.

Neglect often leads to:

  • Accidents and injuries
  • Medication errors
  • Poor hygiene
  • Dehydration
  • Bed sores
  • Medication errors

Nursing home neglect can lead to deadly injuries, exacerbated medical conditions, and even tragic fatalities. This is unacceptable to the families who pay these facilities thousands of dollars each month to provide their elderly loved ones with personal attention and professional medical care services. Sadly, most residents are too afraid of their caretakers or lack the mental faculties to complain about their living conditions.

Tetyana Shippee, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, recently tackled this difficult topic in a study published by the Journal of Applied Gerontology. According to her research, “This report reinforced that the role of family members is so important, as residents often can’t advocate for themselves, especially those with dementia and cognitive impairment, who are at highest risk for injury and premature death.”

Achieving Resident Safety & Satisfaction

Since 2017, lawmakers have been drafting and passing bills to improve conditions in Maryland nursing homes. However, enforcing positive change requires legal and organizational adjustments on various levels, and is, more often than not, a case of trial and error. After all, every nursing home is different, and neglect can stem from insufficient staffing, limited training opportunities, poor facility maintenance, and a failure to provide nursing care.

To complete her study, Shippee compared federal data with surveys completed by the families of nursing home residents in both Ohio and Minnesota. According to an article on HealthDay, Shippee’s researchers chose these states because they “differ in nursing home occupancy rates, percentage of for-profit verses nonprofit facilities, reimbursement rates and other significant factors and policies.” The research revealed that residents and their family members greatly prefer non-profit nursing homes with higher staffing levels.

Factors that improve satisfaction and decrease cases of neglect include:

  • Hiring more registered nurses and certified nursing assistants
  • Providing an activities staff
  • Higher bed occupancy rates
  • Smaller nursing home facilities
  • Higher Medicare payer-mix
  • Facilities not being owned by chains or for-profit companies

It’s important to trust your instincts when it comes to the health and safety of your loved ones. Sometimes, you can learn more about a facility by visiting at unexpected times and talking to other families and residents. Regardless, if you suspect that your family member is suffering, it’s important to remove them from the nursing home and review your options with a legal professional.

Schedule a Consultation Today

If your elderly loved one has been abused or neglected at a nursing home facility, contact the attorneys at Brown & Barron, LLC. We have over 50 years of collective legal experience and have recovered millions on behalf of our clients. Our legal team can investigate the facility and its staff, compile evidence, and prepare a strong litigation strategy that can be used in court.

We’re available 24/7. Contact our Baltimore nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at (410) 698-1717 to schedule a free consultation.

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