Life’s journey is full of difficult decisions. But few are as hard as the decision to move yourself or a loved one into a nursing home or assisted living facility in New Orleans or elsewhere in Louisiana. Families who can no longer attend to the needs of a senior are putting their trust in strangers to care for their health and well-being.
When that trust is broken and seniors are mistreated, abused, or neglected – as happens with shocking regularity – whole families can be devastated. Physical injuries, emotional and psychological trauma, and death can all follow when our most vulnerable citizens are treated with carelessness and cruelty in places which promised to keep them safe.
At Bloom Legal, we are outraged when we see cases of elder abuse at the hands of Louisiana nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Our New Orleans nursing home injury lawyers channel that outrage into forceful advocacy on behalf of seniors and their families who have been betrayed by these caregivers. We hold abusers accountable for their contemptible conduct and the harm they have caused and get families the compensation and justice than can help them move forward after such a disturbing and painful chapter.
A National Problem. A Louisiana Crisis.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 1,328,693 Americans were living in nursing homes in 2016. 26,352 of those Americans lived in Louisiana nursing homes. Over the past decade, the Baby Boomer generation has continued to fill the nation’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities, straining their resources and capacity.
Not only have the number of residents grown, but those who do move into these facilities are living longer lives. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), there were just over 30 million Americans 65 or older in the year 2000. By 2030, that number is expected to exceed 70 million. This explosion in the senior population means that the need for appropriately trained and skilled medical professionals and staff will continue to grow as well. These staffing challenges are likely to make the problem of nursing home abuse and neglect even worse than it is now.
And it is bad now. According to the National Ombudsman Reporting System (NORS) data, within the year 2014, 14,258 (7.6%) of approximately 188,599 complaints reported to nursing home and assisted living facility ombudsman programs involved abuse, gross neglect, or exploitation.
Consider these other horrific statistics from the NCEA:
- During a two-year period, almost one in every three nursing homes in the U.S. were cited for violations of federal standards that had potential to cause harm or that had caused actual harm to a resident.
- Nearly one out of 10 homes had violations that caused residents harm, serious injury, or placed them at risk of death.
- In a study of 2,000 interviews of nursing home residents, 44% said they had been abused and 95% said they had been neglected or seen another resident neglected.
- In another study, over 50% of nursing home staff admitted to mistreating (e.g. physical violence, mental abuse, neglect) elderly patients within the prior year. Two thirds of those incidents involved neglect.
As bad as things are on the national level, they are even worse here in Louisiana. According to a report by Families for Better Care, Louisiana has is the second worst state in America in terms of nursing home quality of care:
- Louisiana has only 8% of professionals in its nursing homes who have the designation of Registered Nurse or higher
- Residents in Louisiana nursing homes receive on average only 32 minutes of nursing care in any given day
- 14% of Louisiana nursing homes are deficient in essential ways
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Takes Many Forms
The reason seniors in New Orleans move into nursing homes is because they require an elevated level of care and attention that their loved ones can no longer provide. These older folks are fragile and vulnerable and are more prone to serious illness or injury even in the best of conditions. When their needs are neglected, or worse, they are physically mistreated, the results can be catastrophic. Elders who experienced even modest abuse had a 300% higher risk of death when compared to those who had not been abused according to the NCEA.
Physical Abuse and Neglect
Throughout the years, our New Orleans nursing home injury lawyers have found that some of the most common forms of nursing home abuse and neglect resulting in physical injury include:
- Medication mistakes
- Improper prescribing of antipsychotic medications
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Falls and drops
- Inadequate care for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
Emotional and Psychological Abuse
Beyond the physical abuse of nursing home residents, psychological and emotional abuse is just as common and no less traumatic. What makes this form of abuse even more insidious is that it can be much more difficult for family members to detect than visible signs of physical abuse.
Emotional abuse can take many forms, such as humiliation, screaming and shouting at the resident, threats, isolation, eavesdropping, or denial of access to facilities or communication with others. The collective impact of such manipulation and mistreatment can lead to depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, withdrawal, and an overall negative change in outlook which in turn can make any existing physical problems even more debilitating.
An increasingly problematic form of nursing home abuse involves cruelly and illegally kicking vulnerable residents out of nursing homes. The practice of patient “dumping” can separate seniors from their spouses and leave them quite literally homeless.
“Dumping” takes many forms, but it is almost always driven by a desire to remove a costly or burdensome resident from a bed so that they can be replaced by someone with greater financial resources or who won’t cause “trouble” for the facility, such as complaining about their care, reporting abuse, or otherwise being “high maintenance.”
Often, “dumping” occurs when a resident needs to be admitted to a hospital for an acute healthcare need. The home or facility will then simply give their room away to a new resident and refuse to readmit them back into the facility after they are discharged from the hospital. It is as if you were to go on vacation for a few days and return to find that your landlord had leased your apartment to someone else.
“Dumping” directly endangers the lives of those seniors wrongfully evicted from their homes. “Transfer trauma” can cause irreparable psychological and physical damage to vulnerable seniors. Some studies have indicated that the rate of death for seniors who are involuntarily transferred from a nursing home is 5 to 9 times higher than for the rest of the senior population.
Unsurprisingly, such conduct is against federal law. Nevertheless, nursing homes continue to engage in the practice of “dumping” seniors because they think that they can get away with it without consequence. They count on seniors or their families being unable or unwilling to hold them accountable due to a lack the knowledge of the law and their rights or the unavailability of resources to fight this abuse.
That is where Bloom Legal comes it. Our New Orleans nursing home injury lawyers understand the law. We know your rights. We can identify even the subtlest signs of abuse or neglect. We have the commitment, skill, and experience to call out mistreatment of seniors and hold these facilities accountable. And we do all of this without charging any attorneys’ fees unless we obtain compensation for you or your loved one.
Causes of Abuse and Neglect
As alluded to above, the growing population of seniors needing skilled caregivers has created a corresponding need for more staff and resources at the nation’s nursing homes and similar facilities. The pressure to fill these positions can lead facility operators to cut corners in hiring, training, and supervision. It can cause facilities to neglect the steps necessary to keep rooms, common areas, kitchens, and other parts of the home in a safe and sanitary condition.
Of course, many nursing homes are also operated by for-profit corporations which are constantly looking for ways to generate revenue and increase their profits. Reducing expenditures on essential services, staffing, and maintenance is one way to achieve these goals, albeit at the expense of the health and safety of residents.
Nursing home shortcomings which directly translate into a higher risk of harm to residents include:
- Poor staffing
- Poorly maintained facilities and unsanitary conditions
- Lack of adequate employee education, supervision, and training
- Inadequate hiring processes that fail to screen candidates for necessary medical knowledge and appropriate personal temperament
Warning Signs of Abuse and Neglect
Families faced with the reality of moving a loved one into a nursing home or assisted facility don’t make the decision lightly. They will usually do plenty of research and due diligence to determine which of many options is the best one for their senior. They want a place that’s comfortable and clean, where the staff seems attentive and competent, and where they leave with a feeling of trust that their loved one will be well cared for.
No matter how much effort these families put into choosing a new home for their loved one, however, they cannot eliminate the possibility that their trust will be betrayed. That is why families need to remain vigilant and understand the signs of abuse and neglect that their loved one may be unwilling or unable to communicate to them.
Common indicators that a nursing home resident may be a victim of abuse or neglect include:
- Sudden and significant emotional and psychological changes
- Staff that deflects or fails to answer questions about your loved one’s care or condition
- Unexplained physical injuries
- Broken bones or fractures
- Bruising, cuts or welts
- Bed sores
- Frequent infections
- Poor personal hygiene
- Dehydration or malnourishment
What to Do If You Believe a Senior is Being Abused or Neglected in a Louisiana Nursing Home
If you believe that a loved one is being mistreated by those who are supposed to care for them, you need to take action as soon as possible. Our New Orleans nursing home injury lawyers are experienced with nursing home and assisted living facility abuse and neglect matters who can advise you of your rights and take steps to prevent further mistreatment of your vulnerable senior.
Additionally, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), Health Standards Section (HSS) investigates complaints against licensed care facilities. It has a hotline for reporting claims of nursing home abuse and neglect – (888) 810-1819. Families should not hesitate to report any concerns to the department, as they can then investigate and take steps to address the problem before further harm is caused.
Bloom Legal Demands Justice for New Orleans Seniors and Their Families
At Bloom Legal, we believe that our seniors deserve to be treated with the utmost respect. We believe that those entrusted with their care should be held to the highest standards. We believe that families should be able to sleep well at night knowing that their loved one is in good hands and is receiving the attention and treatment they have been promised. And our New Orleans nursing home injury lawyers believe that when nursing homes and assisted living facilities breach these duties and promises, they need to be called to account.
Our nursing home injury lawyers are relentless in our pursuit of compensation for seniors who have been harmed because of the cruelty of caregivers. Our team has the resources, determination, and experience that families can depend on during a dark and difficult time. We treat seniors and their families with the respect, compassion, patience, and concern they deserve.
When you call Bloom Legal, you will speak with an attorney right away—not a member of our support staff. When you meet with us for your free initial consultation, we will take the time to truly listen to your story. We will evaluate the circumstances of your case and give you an honest and clear evaluation of your claims. We will discuss and explore your options so you can make a fully informed decision as to how best to proceed.
Remember, not only is your initial consultation free, but you pay nothing in attorney’s fees if we do not recover compensation for you. Even if you are unsure whether you have a claim, there is no reason not to call. Louisiana law establishes strict time limits for filing lawsuits against nursing homes, and if you don’t act in time, you could lose any right to recover compensation for your losses.
Call Bloom Legal Today to Discuss Your Case With Our New Orleans Nursing Home Injury Lawyers
Please call the New Orleans nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at Bloom Legal today at 504-599-9997 or through our contact form to arrange for your free consultation to discuss the details of your case. We welcome the privilege of getting justice and compensation for seniors and their families who have been mistreated, betrayed and harmed by the very people who were supposed to protect them.
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Posted by: Zachary Klos