What you need to know about arbitration agreements at nursing homes

Placing a loved one in a nursing home is never an easy decision, but family members may feel relieved knowing that their loved one is safe and secure.

Unfortunately, bad things can happen to residents in nursing homes. Abuse, neglect or sexual assault of residents is, sadly, not uncommon.

Worse, in some nursing homes, the legal rights of victims may be limited because of something they signed in the admissions contract.

Continue reading “What you need to know about arbitration agreements at nursing homes”

Basic Facts Everyone Should Know About Elder Abuse

nursing_homeAs people age, they may become less able to physically defend themselves or stand up to an abusive caregiver. There are more than half a million reports of this each year, and professionals estimate that at least a few more million cases occur annually but are simply not reported. Abuse may come in many forms, including emotional, abusive, and financial, among others. Learn what signs to look for in elderly family members, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. An elder abuse attorney specializes in helping victims who are in situations of mistreatment. If a loved one dies at the hands of an abusive caregiver, the family should seek the guidance of a wrongful death attorney to discuss this difficult situation and learn about the legal rights they may have.

Physical abuse includes all types of assault, such as pushing or shoving but also the inappropriate use of confinement, drugs, or restraints. Emotional abuse occurs when a caregiver causes undue emotional pain or distress to the elderly person through yelling, insulting, or blaming him or her. Isolating the person from friends and family is also considered emotional abuse. These are all signs that may indicate abuse of some type:

  • Unexplained signs of injury, such as bruises or cuts
  • Broken eyeglasses
  • Broken bones, sprains, or dislocations
  • Torn or dirty undergarments
  • Caregiver denies contact or visitation with others, especially without him or her being present
  • Caregiver threatens or belittles the elderly person
  • Elderly person rocks or mumbles to himself, much like someone with dementia

If someone you love has been injured due to nursing home neglect or elder abuse, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.

Visitors Can Help Uncover Elder Abuse

Portrait of Worried Senior Couple

This time of year, many groups launch campaigns to encourage the public to visit nursing homes. We think it’s a great idea, but not just during the holidays. Nursing home residents benefit from regular visits all year long – and you may too.

Did you know?

  • 50% of people living in long term care facilities have no family
  • 60% get no visitors
  • As many as five million seniors are abused or neglected each year in the United States
  • One study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse ever comes to the attention of authorities*

While visits cannot guarantee nursing home residents will not be abused or neglected, regular visitors may notice important signs of abuse.

Signs of elder abuse

Elder abuse can affect men and women of all ethnic backgrounds, regardless of social status.  Whether they live in their own home or reside in a long-term facility, seniors may be victims of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. They may also suffer from neglect, abandonment, or even financial exploitation.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, one sign does not necessarily mean abuse or neglect is occurring, but watch for indicators that there could be a problem, such as:

  • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
  • Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.
  • Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses or caregivers are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
  • Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person are also signs.

It is important to remain alert. The suffering is often in silence. If you notice changes in personality, behavior, or physical condition, you should start to question what is going on.

For more information, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse website or contact your local Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

 

*National Research Council. (2003) Elder mistreatment: Abuse, neglect and exploitation in an aging America. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

Protecting Your Loved One in a Nursing Home

 

We’ve all heard the horror stories. Stories of elderly men and women who are made to sit in their beds for days and weeks, not able to move to use the bathroom and suffering in pain.

Putting a mother, father or other loved one in a nursing home is already a difficult decision. Dealing with the additional anxiety that comes with worrying about how well they are being taken care of can be challenging.

The first thing you need to know is that you can and should get involved in your loved one’s life at the nursing home. If you are able, strive to be a constant there. Studies have shown that patients who have regular guests and loving families who care receive better treatment in nursing homes.

Start by getting to know the staff: nurses, doctors, and administrators. They can tell you a lot about the facility and what they offer, but their actions can also tell when things aren’t working correctly. Do they always seem too busy to help? Do the patients look like they are left unattended and uncared-for often? Does the facility smell? Does the staff act as if they don’t want to be there?

Another option you have is attending the nursing home’s care plan meetings. These are typically held monthly and include everyone who has an impact on your loved one’s care at the home. The meeting will be attended by nurses, doctors, dietitians, social services and even their physical therapist. This monthly meeting is to ensure that the patient’s needs are being met currently and plans are being made for future needs as well.

Getting involved is the easiest way to make sure your loved one is protected. If you feel that the nursing home is mistreating them in any way, have a candid conversation with those in charge. If that doesn’t work or falls on deaf ears, there are programs out there designed to investigate your concerns.  You may also want to speak to a lawyer in the event your loved one suffers an injury in the nursing home and you need answers.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at http://www.elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

– William P. Campbell

22 Infected in Deadly Ohio Legionnaires’ Outbreak

UPDATE: Total count of infected persons is now 27.

A retirement community in Reynoldsburg, Ohio is the center of the state’s worst Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in decades, infecting 22 27 people and leaving two dead. Officials from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working with the Ohio Department of Health and local county officials to determine the source. The Columbus Dispatch reports that one visitor and one employee of the retirement community were infected. The rest of those sickened, whose ages range from 63 to 99, are residents. No information has been released about the names or the ages of the two killed by the deadly bacteria.

Legionnaires’ disease

Legionnaires’ disease acquired its name in 1976 when an outbreak of pneumonia occurred among members of the American Legion while attending a convention in Philadelphia. Also known as legionellosis, it is an infection caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila.

How is legionellosis spread?

Legionnaire’s disease is acquired after inhaling aerosols (mist or steam) from a water source that contains the bacteria. Possible sources can include large cooling towers, hot water tanks, decorative fountains, showers and hot tubs. Drinking water is not a source of legionella. The disease is not spread from person to person.

Symptoms:

According to the CDC, Legionnaires’ disease is can be difficult to diagnose because it has symptoms like many other forms of pneumonia, including:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • High fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches

Those most susceptible are individuals who smoke heavily, have chronic lung disease, or have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or cancer. Patients with a compromised immune system are also especially at risk. The time between exposure and onset of the illness is usually 2-10 days.

Water temperature

Legionella bacterium is sensitive to water temperature.  In 2011, there was a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the Miami Valley Hospital near Dayton. Several lawsuits were subsequently filed. The suits alleged that insufficient heating of the hot-water system at the hospital was the primary reason for the outbreak.

Water temperature is only one factor in preventing an outbreak, but it is important. The Association of Water Technologies reports the following guidelines:

  • Over 70°C (158°F) = 100% of the Legionella bacteria die rapidly
  • 60°C (140°F) = 90% die in 2 minutes
  • 50°C (122°F) = 90% die in 2 hours
  • 35-46°C (95-115°F) Legionella thrives; maximum growth
  • Under 20°C (68°F) Predominately dormant, but viable

While it would seem that hot water tanks should be kept as hot as possible, Ohio plumbing codes caps hot water temperatures at 120°F due to a potential risk of scalding. However it is possible for institutions to raise hot water temperatures to 140 degrees if they adopt temperature control measures that lower the water temperature at faucets and fixtures by mixing hot and cold water.

Legionnaires’ is frequently perceived as rare because many cases are not detected, and not all detected cases are reported to public health authorities. The CDC estimates that the disease infects 8,000 to 18,000 persons annually in the U.S. but others have estimated as many as 100,000 annual U.S. cases.

If you or someone you know has been affected by Legionnaires’ disease as a result of being present at Wesley Ridge Retirement Community, Elk & Elk wants to hear from you. Just call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or complete our free, no-obligation online contact form.

Sources:

Legionnaire’s outbreak at Reynoldsburg retirement community affects 22” by Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch, July 19, 2013.

Legionella (Legionnaires’ Disease and Pontiac Fever)Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), accessed 7/21/2013.