Learn What to Do If You Believe Nursing Home Residents Are Facing Abuse
Elders who require regular medical attention and need help completing daily tasks are among the most vulnerable members of our society. Because they are dependent on others for their basic needs, they may be forced to endure neglect, abuse, or other harmful behavior without having any way to protect themselves or report those who mistreat them. It is up to outside observers and advocates to hold unfit caregivers accountable, along with their employers.
There are multiple regulatory measures and procedures that can be deployed if you suspect a nursing home has been neglecting and/or abusing its patients. From working with a serious law firm like Brown & Barron to involving government officials or an ombudsman, here are the ways you can file a complaint against a harmful facility and what you can expect to come of each.
Know Your or Your Loved One’s Legal Rights After Nursing Home Abuse Occurs
Every nursing home resident is granted certain rights under federal law. The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, which is part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, is a legislation that details those rights, including freedom from abuse, neglect, and mistreatment.
Loved ones of nursing home residents should pay attention if they complain about a situation that violates their rights and subsequently file a report alleging abuse or neglect.
Start a Government Investigation in Nursing Home Abuse Through the Office of Health Care Quality
Nursing homes are regulated by state and federal law and can face penalties ranging from fines to license revocation if they do not comply with the rules. You can file a complaint if you or a family member received subpar treatment, were neglected, or otherwise saw your rights violated while in a nursing home.
How to File
Call the Maryland Office of Health Care Quality at (410) 402-8108 or email a complaint to email@example.com.
What Happens After I File?
The Maryland government aims to address complaints as quickly as possible. You should expect a confirmation your complaint has been received by the Board of Examiners and Nursing Home Administrators and may also be contacted for more information. If there are apparent violations of state law, the matter will be passed to the Health Occupations Investigator for a full inquiry. If the Board believes the matter falls outside their jurisdiction, they will refer your complaint to another agency and inform you of the change. If your case is closed without action being taken, the Board will send you a notice.
Complain About an Individual Care Provider Through Board Offices
If you have a complaint about a member of your or a loved one’s care team, you can take it directly to the state Board responsible for overseeing members of the profession. This may result in consequences directed toward the individual(s) directly responsible for abusing or neglecting patients.
Filing Your Complaint
To submit a complaint about a physician, visit the Maryland Board of Physicians online.
To submit a complaint about a Medication Technician (MT), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Licensed Professional Nurse (LPN), Registered Nurse (RN), or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), contact the Maryland Board of Nursing. Its phone numbers are 1-888-202-9861 or 410-585-1900, or you can visit its complaint portal to download a complaint form that can be submitted digitally or mailed to the organization.
What Will Happen Next
Both the Board of Physicians and Board of Nursing will investigate the individual accused of malpractice. The process may take a year or more, and you may or may not be contacted to provide testimony. If the individual is found guilty of violating the law, they may face disciplinary action. Even if they are not guilty of illegal behavior, the Board may choose to inform their employer if the investigation uncovered worrisome conduct.
Take Action Against Nursing Home Abuse Through Ombudsman and Related Services
An ombudsman is a citizen representative who can be brought in as a third party to review and mediate disputes or complaints. Maryland’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program provides nursing home residents with a contact to whom they can report wrongdoing confidentially. An ombudsman can provide resources and assistance in escalating concerns as necessary.
The ombudsman program also supports resident and family councils that are open to all nursing home residents and patient family members, respectively. Nursing home administrators are not allowed to interfere with these programs’ operations and must respond to concerns and recommendations submitted by their members.
Making a Complaint
When a new patient is admitted into a nursing home, they must be provided with contact information for the state or local ombudsman and a current member of the family council. If you were not given this information or cannot find it, you can find your local ombudsman through the Maryland Department of Aging.
Your local ombudsman can guide you through making a complaint, either directly or through one of the councils. You should know they will not take any action unless you specifically request it to ensure your privacy is protected.
Filing a Legal Claim for Compensation in a Nursing Home Abuse Case
All the methods listed above are ways of disciplining nursing homes or their staff when they don’t follow the law. While they may lead to a dismissal of unqualified caregivers or changes in policy, they do not provide direct recourse for patients and their families who were harmed by such actions.
Nursing home neglect and abuse can cause serious physical and mental health conditions that can steal years from our loved ones. Those who were treated this way deserve the chance to file for compensation for damages, including medical bills and pain and suffering. Brown & Barron can help you file a legal claim if you or a loved one suffered nursing home neglect.
What Filing a Claim for Elder Abuse Looks Like
You will not be responsible for the bureaucratic or technical processes when you work with Brown & Barron. We handle everything from investigating your claim fully to putting together a settlement request to making sure your case is filed correctly and in a timely manner. You can be as involved as you want to, and we will always keep you up to date on the status of your case.
Proving a Nursing Home Lawsuit
To establish a viable nursing home claim, you must demonstrate the following:
- The facility failed to provide the acceptable standard of care and treatment expected in a reputable assisted living or nursing home.
- Nursing home staff negligence caused injury or death to a resident.
- The resident incurred injury-related losses resulting from medical malpractice, or family members incurred losses due to the decedent’s passing.
Nursing home staff seldom concedes that they failed to provide adequate care to the resident. Instead, nursing home abuse lawyers locate medical expert witnesses to review records and offer opinions on why the facility was guilty of wrongdoing and how neglect or abuse caused the resident to sustain injuries. This testimony is critical to ensuring the lawsuit favors the claimant financially.
Common Causes of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Nursing homes are businesses, and as such, their primary goal is to maximize profit. They do this, in part, by reducing their expenses. Sadly, this fact alone can place residents at an increased risk for maltreatment, often for the following reasons:
- Underpaid staff, leading to low morale, high turnover rates, and a disregard for residents.
- Staffing shortages, resulting in employee burnout, a low health provider-to-resident ratio, and a lack of personal attention to residents regarding their needs and safety.
- Inadequate employee training due to lack of education, resulting in staff failing to identify signs of illness or injury, monitor residents effectively, and move or transfer them safely.
- Inadequate nursing staff supervision by management and head nurses, as registered and licensed practical nurses must supervise many staff members.
- Medication problems, illnesses, and other resident issues are ignored due to staff apathy and an overwhelming workload.
- Staff failure to effectively communicate changes in a resident’s mental or physical condition to medical supervisors.
- Failure to send a resident to a hospital emergency room when an injury or significant change in condition has occurred.
Types of Recoverable Compensation in a Nursing Home Abuse Case
Most often, settlements and court verdicts include two kinds of damages that can be awarded:
Non-economic damages, including payouts for physical pain and suffering, emotional anguish, disability, loss of companionship and life enjoyment, and scars and disfigurements.
Economic damages, including medical expenses, loss of income, and reimbursement of money to an insurance carrier for injuries inflicted due to nursing home abuse or neglect.
In the event of a loved one’s passing, a wrongful death claim can be filed that requests compensation for the pain and suffering of the decedent before their death. Maryland law also allows for damages to the surviving family members’ loss of companionship, emotional distress, and reimbursement for funeral and burial expenses.
What Happens After I File a Nursing Home Abuse Claim?
You can expect a nursing home to fight back against a claim because its owners doubtless want to avoid having to pay a large settlement. Our attorneys will go toe-to-toe with them to protect your right to compensation. We keep fighting for our clients until their cases have been fully resolved. We are ready to take your case to trial if the nursing home does not want to settle fairly. Few nursing home abuse cases end up in court, but if yours needs to be presented to a jury, you can be confident in our team, which has been the lead counsel in over 100 trials.
We Can Help You Fight Back Against Nursing Home Abuse
Filing a claim against a nursing home is the best way for an injured resident or their surviving family to have their voice heard. Medical providers who do not give their patients the best care possible must be held accountable for their grave betrayal of people’s trust and the vows of their profession. We are dedicated to helping the victims of medical malpractice fight for justice.
Filing a nursing home abuse case can bring about real change for your family and other patients who may also be suffering neglect. It can help remove unfit caregivers and lead to large-scale reforms. Most importantly, you do not have to go through this alone. Our team is known for our excellent service—we are available 24/7 to answer your questions. If you are ready to take on a nursing home for its poor treatment of patients, Brown & Barron is on your side.
Call our nursing home abuse attorneys today for a free and confidential consultation. We have recovered hundreds of millions for our clients and would like to do the same for you.