May 16, 2013

Accountability for Failed Response to Nursing Home Abuse

by Levin & Perconti

Nursing home neglect and abuse lawsuits are guided by state and federal statutes, administrative/regulatory rules, and common law principles. Attorneys working on these cases may draw on any of these in order to ensure proper accountability for nursing home owners, operators, caregivers, and others whose mistakes (or intentional actions) may cause harm to seniors.

Considering the various sources of law, sometimes these legal cases can be quite complex. At times, the basis for accountability is not straightforward. For example, most understand that an individual caregiver can be held responsible when they intentionally harm a senior. However, rules about oversight of those employees may also mean that the operators of a nursing home (or owner/shareholders) may similarly be accountable for the actions of their employees.

In addition, facilities can also be held accountable in various ways not only for the damaging mistakes they make, but also for their response (or failed response) to claims of neglect or abuse. In other words, the poor response itself is a separate form of negligence, on top of the underlying mistreatment.

Citations for Failing to Report Abuse
That principle was in play in sanctions doled out to one facility as reported by the News-Bulletin. According to the report, the facility in question was fined and placed on state-mandated probation as a result of its failure to report neglect allegations and implement changes to ensure abuse is not perpetrated on residents. Importantly, this punishment was not handed down because of the underlying potential abuse, but simply for the failure to follow appropriate steps when made aware of the allegations. The action is a testament to the seriousness that we all place on ensuring proper treatment of seniors.

The particulars of this case are similar to that which exist in facilities throughout Illinois. It seems that at least three seniors may have been physically and verbally abused. Specifically, several members of the caregiving team at the home knew of “intentional rudeness, refusal of care and services, and rough physical treatment of residents.”

Sadly, instead of stepping up and ensuring the problem was fixed, those caregivers turned the other cheek and did not take action.

This inaction occur at nursing homes across the country every day. It is one thing for outside observers to stay mum when they have suspicions of mistreatment. We encourage all those who suspect neglect to say something, but it is understandable that it takes a bit more for an outsider to recognize problems and speak up. Conversely, there is no excuse for an actual caregiver to remain silent when they know that a co-worker is harming residents. The very act of not coming forward is itself an act of neglect that needs to come with accountability. Nursing home abuse should never be swept under the rug, least of all by those best trained to recognize poor care.

The attorneys at our firm have decades of experience vindicating the rights of nursing home residents and their family members. Please get in touch without our team today if you have questions about mistreatment of an elderly loved one close to you.

See Other Posts:

Arbitration Fairness Act of 2013 Introduced in Congress

Levin & Perconti Filed IL Nursing Home Lawsuit Against Applewood Rehabilitation Center