Nursing home injuries and abuse do occur, and helpless people suffer. Every year a shocking four million elderly people are physically or psychologically neglected or abused in the United States. Although many wish to believe senior relatives are living healthy and happy lives in long-term care facilities, about 30 percent of seniors residing in these facilities are not. 

In 2005, almost all nursing homes inspected by states showed at least one deficiency in operation. Ninety percent of nursing homes were cited for inadequate staff. Some nursing aids reported caring for up to 30 residents, and many of these have no close relatives or friends to report potential neglect in such situations.
If you suspect nursing home abuse, what recourse is available?

The National Center on Elder Abuse
Any suspected abuse of a nursing home resident needs to be reported to authorities immediately. A toll-free hotline is available in most states for reporting. Your state’s number will be listed on the National Center on Elder Abuse website.

Ombudsman
Every state has a long-term care ombudsman to address concerns of nursing home negligence of residents. Call the U.S. Administration on Aging at 800-677-1116 to find a local ombudsman, or go to the website at www.eldercare.gov. The website covers how to report nursing home injuries or abuse. 

Who is responsible for nursing home abuse?
A nursing home has a very broad range of services provided, because they are covering all the bases for activities of daily living. This means hygiene, medical care, shelter and feeding. Staff assist in all of these areas, so there is a wide variety of instances in which a resident may suffer nursing home negligence or nursing home injury.

Some incidences of nursing facility neglect
Not all neglect is deliberate. A resident may be in danger of dehydration because the person lacks desire to consume fluids. If staff does not monitor the hydration, neglect charges can be brought. If a resident is in danger of physical harm through falls, restraints may be used. Restraint use can cause psychological harm to an individual. If wheelchair brakes are not properly set, a resident may experience physical injury from a fall.

When proper investigation proves the nursing home was negligent and caused physical or psychological injury, the nursing home can be held responsible for damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

Third party responsibility
Although elder abuse in a nursing home is often pictured as deliberate injury or neglect of a resident, sometimes there are other factors of liability. Medicine may be improperly dispensed through automated equipment, or a piece of physical therapy equipment may malfunction. Food poisoning can occur, particularly in an institutional setting. 

A resident may be physically or psychologically abused by visiting family members, and the security system of the nursing home could be to blame, as well as monitoring measures by the facility itself.

Legal advice
A lawyer experienced in personal injury cases can advise you with proper agency contacts, as well as assistance in removing the nursing home resident from a toxic environment.  Nursing home liability is complicated by the many areas in which a nursing home provides for its residents. Legal advise can help sort out who is really responsible for neglect, abuse or injury in a long-term nursing care facility.