With the Aging Population of the United States
As the population of the United States continues to age, the demands placed on our health care system continues to increase.
Below are a few facts:
- There were 37.3 million people 65 and older in 2006, accounting for 12% of the total population. In 2005, this group numbered an estimated 36.8 million.
- The number of people 85 and older reached 5.3 million, up from 5.1 million in 2005.
- An estimated one in 20 individuals will require some form of assisted living at some point in their lives.
Unfortunately, as the elderly population continues to grow, the incidence of nursing home injury, negligence and abuse has increased.
Despite the efforts of governmental agencies to help oversee the care and services provided by nursing homes, and federal and state standards established to ensure the safety of patients, more than one million nursing home residents are abused in some manner each year.
Whether the abuse consists of recurrent negligence or a single incident that causes injury, the victim has a right to damages.
Nursing home abuse can include the following:
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Lack of adequate medical care
- Wrong medication
- Sexual assault
- Lack of supervision
- Physical or mental abuse
- Falls leading to broken bones, concussions or other injuries
- The use of inappropriate nursing care
On July 30, 2001, the U.S. House Minority Staff Committee on Government Reform released the results of an investigation into the frequency of physical, sexual, and verbal abuse occurring in nursing homes in the United States. Based upon an analysis of nursing home inspections or complaint investigations within a two year period, the study found that over 5000 nursing homes -- almost one out of every three in the United States – were cited for abusive and illegal practices.
Furthermore, this study found that over 40% of the abuse violations were discovered only after the victim’s family filed a legal claim or complaint. Thus, there is no question but that nursing home abuse and negligence issues in elder care remain very important areas in protecting the rights of consumers and victims.
For example, Wallace and Graham successfully resolved a case against a local nursing home as a result of our client who suffered from malnutrition, bed sores, and poor hygiene care and ultimately suffered a compression of the neck and resulting death. The settlement although confidential was significant. The firm is currently involved in litigation involving other nursing homes for negligence and improper care.
What are the signs of physical abuse?
Signs of physical abuse can include unexplained injuries, bruises, broken bones, broken eyeglasses, and signs of being restrained such as rope marks.
Also, abuse can result from the use of unnecessary medical procedures performed in order to claim reimbursement from insurance or Medicare.
What are the signs of emotional abuse?
Emotional abuse of an elder can often be more difficult to spot than physical abuse. The signs include negative behavior by caregiver toward the patient in your presence, and withdrawn behaviors on the part of the patient.
What are the signs of sexual abuse?
Evidence of sexual abuse can include bleeding or bruising around sex organs, unexplained sexual disease, and torn or stained underclothing.
What are the signs of financial abuse?
There have also been reported cases of financial abuse and of caregivers taking advantage of a patient’s financial situation. Examples of this can include forging the patient’s signature, having donations made to phony charities, and having the patient participate in phony raffles. Look for suspicious financial activity, missed bill payments, and sudden changes in financial condition.