Alabama residents want to believe that their loved ones are safe when they live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Unfortunately, nursing home residents are too often neglected. Despite the fact that nursing homes are contractually obligated to provide medication management, transportation, personal hygiene and other services, residents are sometimes left in unsanitary conditions.
The signs may not always be obvious to loved ones, who may not discover the depth of the problem until the patient falls ill or dies. If you suspect any sort of abuse or neglect of your elderly relative in a nursing home, it's imperative to contact a personal injury lawyer who can advise you of your legal options.
When Sanitation Goes Seriously Wrong
An extreme case out of Little Rock, Arkansas shows just how bad conditions can become for nursing home residents who are dependent on others for their personal care. NBC4i reports that a resident of Capital Health and Rehabilitation was found to have maggots inside his catheter. He contracted a urinary tract infection, and flies swarmed around the area. The man was also found to have escaped the nursing home twice. The nursing home was not aware he was missing on either occasion until he was returned to the facility. His son, who seriously questions his father’s safety in the facility, has since withdrawn him from Capital Health. The facility self-reported its own deficiencies to the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services, and will pay a $21,000 fine as a penalty.
How Can You Protect Loved Ones in an Alabama Nursing Home?
One of the most important factors in preventing nursing home neglect is accountability. While state inspectors do provide some oversight of assisted living facilities, they cannot ensure that every resident’s needs are met on a daily basis. It is therefore important that family members and friends visit regularly, and follow up on any problem. A dismissive answer from floor staff may require a follow up with supervisors, medical directors or a corporate office. Problems which are not remedied will only get worse. It is important to hold nursing home staff accountable for all daily needs of their residents. Medication, transportation, bathing, and other self-care tasks must be completed regularly.
When neglect or abuse occurs, residents and their families have legal recourse. Section 38-9E-2 of the Code of Alabama defines neglect as the failure of a caregiver to provide food, shelter, clothing, medical services, medication, or health care for an elderly person. The law criminalizes the neglect of an elderly person. Neglect is classified as first, second, or third degree, depending on the severity of the offense. Neglected residents may also file civil lawsuits for their financial losses resulting from neglect.
Nursing homes are generally liable for the actions of their employees, and a lawsuit can therefore be filed against a facility for the actions of its staff members. Finally, residents also have administrative remedies through the Alabama Department of Public Health. Facilities which neglect their residents can be fined, or have their certification suspended or revoked. These actions prevent the facility from harming other innocent residents.
If one of your loved ones has been subjected to unsanitary nursing home conditions, seek legal advice from an experienced Alabama nursing home neglect attorney as soon as possible. It is important that nursing homes be held accountable for their mistreatment.