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Albuquerque New Mexico Nursing Home Abuse Law Blog

Types of damages potentially recoverable for nursing home abuse

Residents of nursing homes in New Mexico depend on the facilities to provide adequate care and treat them with dignity. Violations of these expectations can inflict serious physical and emotional injuries both on the victims and their relatives. The law recognizes the betrayal that victims of nursing home abuse have suffered and could enable the collection of compensation for damages arising from a variety of factors. People who need to hold a nursing facility accountable must gather as much evidence as possible about what happened to improve the likelihood of gaining a settlement.

Many issues that reduce or eliminate a person's ability to enjoy life might have a legitimate place within a claim for damages. Calculating the losses endured by an individual or family involves adding up medical bills and expected future medical care. Mental anguish could count as well toward damages. Suffering associated with physical injuries, loss of mobility, fear of future attacks, sleep loss and post-traumatic stress disorder could qualify as legitimate damages.

Federal agency to flag nursing home abuse

New Mexico families may struggle with choosing a care facility when they are no longer able to care for elderly loved ones at home. They may worry that if they make the wrong choice, their elder relatives could face neglect, abuse and even a shortened lifespan. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Studies is introducing an informative system that is designed to provide additional information to families researching care homes. The agency runs a website for consumers to compare nursing homes. On the listing page, CMS will place a small red icon near the names of facilities where there have been reports of exploitation, abuse or neglect.

The icon could draw attention to the potential for problems at certain facilities. When people rely on recommendations provided by the home, they may not realize that there could be serious safety problems or ongoing reports of nursing home neglect or abuse. The icon will be displayed if an incident of abuse harmed a resident at a home in the year prior. It will also remain in place if any incidents of abuse that could have harmed a resident took place in the previous two years.

Illinois fines nursing home over sexual abuse case

When residents of New Mexico and other states place their loved ones in a nursing home, they expect the facility's staff to be competent, caring and trustworthy. Sadly, that expectation is not always met.

For example, on Oct. 25, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced that it has fined a Quincy nursing home for failing to prevent a staff member from sexually abusing multiple residents. The staff member, who worked as a chaplain at the facility, was arrested on June 24 after he was accused of abusing two residents. During the course of the investigation, officers from the Quincy Police Department learned that he may have also sexually abused two female family members who were under the age of 18 and 13. He was charged with those crimes on July 8.

Your loved one’s safety includes good emergency planning

If you are looking for a nursing home that will provide good care for your loved one, you have certain requirements in mind.

Among those should be safety and security issues. The facility you eventually choose should have a comprehensive plan in place, from hiring practices to emergency procedures for safeguarding residents.

Senate bill would allow nursing homes access to employee database

Each year, thousands of New Mexico families make the difficult decision to place a loved one in the care of a nursing home. In doing so, they must trust that the facility has thoroughly vetted its employees, ensuring they don't have a history of abusive behavior or criminal activities. To help make this process easier, a U.S. senator is pushing to give nursing homes access to a national background checks database.

On Oct. 22, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, introduced legislation that would allow nursing home facilities to use a national database that tracks criminal charges, malpractice claims and disciplinary actions filed against employees. Currently, medical boards, law firms and hospitals are allowed to use it, but nursing homes are not. Instead, most nursing facilities hire private investigation firms to check FBI records, which don't include malpractice and disciplinary claims.

Nursing home violations and consumer visibility

Any resident in New Mexico who has had to search for a nursing home to help provide care for their parent or another aging relative knows how difficult this process can be. Among the challenges associated with finding a facility that fits in a person's budget and that has an available room when it is needed, families must try to assess the quality of care their loved one will receive. 

While a nursing home should be a place where residents are kept safe, all too often they are the very places at which residents experience serious neglect, abuse or exploitation. Sadly, many families do not learn about these incidents until it is too late to help their relatives. While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does issue violations to nursing homes for these types of events, the reports can be hard for the average consumer to find. This inhibits a family's ability to properly select a nursing home that they believe will provide a safe home for their relative.

Ethical considerations for nursing home webcams

If you are the adult child of a parent in New Mexico who may be getting to the point of needing care beyond what you and other family members can provide, you may well have given thought to finding a nursing home or assisted living facility for your parent. This can be a very scaring proposition for many families as there are a number of residents who experience some form of neglect or abuse at the hands of those tasked with caring for them.

As reported by Yahoo News, some family members have tried to tackle this concern by finding ways to monitor their parents, similarly to how they may have installed cameras in their homes or in daycare centers to watch their children when they went to work. This approach has not been without its share of controversy, however.

Falls kill about 1,800 U.S. nursing home residents annually

Placing a parent or other elder loved in a New Mexico nursing home or assisted living facility is hard even under the best possible circumstances, but if your loved one also has mobility issues, you may justifiably feel even more trepidation about doing so. At The Harvey & Foote Law Firm, we understand that your concerns may well be justifiable, because falls that lead to serious injuries and resident deaths are alarmingly common in these environments.

According to Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, the leading cause of preventable emergency-room hospital room visits among older populations is falls, which account for about 36% of these visits. Many of these falls occur in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, despite the fact that many residents live in these facilities in the first place because they require extra mobility assistance.

What kind of prescription drugs is your loved one receiving?

Let us say that your mother is a nursing home resident. When you researched facilities, this was one of the best from all reports, and your mom seemed to settle in well.

She is a dementia patient with mild symptoms thus far, but lately, you notice changes. She deals with bouts of anxiety and depression, and you worry about the prescription drugs she receives, which include antipsychotics.

How to choose a nursing home

When New Mexico residents realize they need to put a parent in a nursing home, they may not know which facility to choose. Many people may have heard stories about nursing home neglect. To ensure a nursing home will take good care of seniors, there are a few questions people should ask when they visit different facilities.

It is important to ask about the staff members of a nursing home. According to U.S. News and World Report, family members should usually ask how long the caregivers have worked at the facility. Ideally, staff members will work at a nursing home for a long time and work with the same residents every day. If a facility has a high turnover rate, this may affect the kind of care an elderly relative receives. Additionally, it is a good idea to ask about the staffing ratios. It is generally best if a nursing home has a larger staff so that caregivers are not spread too thin among the residents. People can also do their own research so they can compare the number of staff members with the number of residents.

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