Proving nursing home negligence requires watching for signs, documenting evidence, and reporting evidence to the proper authorities. In 2014, the number of adults residing in U.S. nursing homes reached 1.4 million. The number of nursing homes and long-term care facilities needed for care reached about 835,000. With baby boomers reaching retirement age, it’s estimated that the number of adults over the age of 65 will reach 83.7 million by 2050. While many nursing home facilities provide good quality care for their residents, others provide substandard care that often involves resident abuse and neglect.
Proving Nursing Home Negligence
When nursing home neglect is suspected, it requires due diligence for proof. To prove a nursing home abuse or neglect case, a sequence of steps is necessary.
Watching and Documenting the Signs
For family members and friends of loved ones in a nursing home, it’s important to watch for and document signs of abuse or neglect. Common signs include:
- Bruises, lacerations, or broken bones
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Unexplained changes in mood
- Withdrawal from normal activities
- Anxiety or fear around caretakers
- Use of physical restraints
When documenting evidence, taking photographs is a good way to show proof of neglect or abuse. Photos of physical injuries, unsafe living conditions, bed restraints, soiled bedding, and poor hygiene are strong evidence for nursing home neglect and proof for a nursing home negligence lawyer to file a lawsuit.
Gathering Witness Statements
When nursing home neglect or abuse takes place, there are typical witnesses that see it or know that it’s going on. Witnesses frequently include other residents nearby, family members or friends who visit the resident or facility, and nursing home staff members.
Obtaining Nursing Home Records
Under Medicare and Medicaid programs, a family member can receive and review a loved one’s nursing home records to look for unnecessary treatments, explanations for injuries, prescribed medications, and inconsistencies in care. Nursing home medical records often indicate signs of neglect such as treatments for physical injuries and bedsores, hospitalization for malnutrition and dehydration, and other health problems linked to substandard care.
Filing an Ombudsman Complaint
If nursing home neglect or abuse is suspected, filing a complaint with a local ombudsman is the first step. Local ombudsman programs keep detailed records of complaints against nursing homes, as well as the outcome of the complaints. Frequent reports and allegations against a nursing home can prove a history of substandard care.