Signs of Nursing Home Neglect in South Carolina
Charleston, SC Elder Care Lawyers For Nursing Home Neglect Cases
The quality of care in South Carolina nursing homes has been on a descending slope since 2014. Whether the decrease in care quality is due to understaffing, poor training, inadequate supplies, or poor overall management, long-term care facilities owe a duty to care for their elderly residents. Nursing home facilities are responsible for evaluating and monitoring what type and level of care they should provide to their residents. A facility should understand the possibility of adverse events and teach staff members how to report incidents to ensure the safety of all residents. Unfortunately, a multitude of errors can occur, which can leave residents severely neglected.
If you or someone you know suspects nursing home neglect, consult with an experienced Charleston, South Carolina nursing home neglect attorney to discuss your legal rights and remedies. Nursing homes can—and should—be held accountable for neglecting vulnerable residents.
How Common Is Nursing Home Neglect?
In 2020, there were over 15,000 complaints of neglect and abuse filed in the U.S. with nursing home ombudsmen. According to the South Carolina Department of Aging, there are over 2,000 long-term care facilities in the state, with over 43,000 beds. Every resident in a nursing home has rights guaranteed by the Federal Nursing Home Reform Law including the right to care and the right to privacy. Unfortunately, neglect and abuse occur on a regular basis.
ProPublica’s Nursing Home Inspect data follows an assessment risk matrix to determine the severity of any deficiencies. The ratings range from A to L, with A being the least serious to L being the most serious. The ratings are categorized as:
- Ratings A, B, and C – There are no injuries, but there is a potential for minor harm.
- Ratings D, E, and F – There is potential for serious injuries to occur in the future.
- Ratings G, H, and I – There are known injuries that require monitoring and treatment.
- Ratings J, K and L – There are serious injuries that jeopardize a resident’s health.
The nursing home data revealed that 1,988 deficiencies are noted in South Carolina. These deficiencies received a D Rating, which indicates the potential for more serious injuries to occur in the future. For all severity levels, a total of 3,266 deficiencies are reported for South Carolina.
What is Nursing Home Neglect?
Nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and other community residential facilities (CRCFs) provide a “Resident’s Bill of Rights,” which explains a resident’s legal rights and the standard of care that the facility and its employees must provide by law. The rights are designed to accommodate residents’ changing needs while maximizing their dignity, autonomy, privacy, and safety. Healthcare providers at these facilities also hold a legal responsibility to provide residents with protection, safety, and appropriate medical care. Further, these facilities must avoid conduct that can reasonably cause serious harm.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nursing home neglect incidents occur when a nursing home or assisted living facility resident does not receive adequate care, resulting in serious physical or psychological harm.
In neglect cases, the court will evaluate a breach of reasonable care by considering factors such as the resident’s health, current medical needs, and medical history. Often, serious accidents arise due to neglect. Serious accidents include:
- A person who needs to use the bathroom but no one comes to answer the call button, so the person tries to go by themselves, falls, and suffers a broken hip bone or other bones.
- A person falls due to improper monitoring by staff or wrong medication dosage, hits their head, and suffers head trauma.
- Developing severe bedsores and pressure ulcers from not being appropriately repositioned.
- Contracting additional infections or injuries due to malnourishment and dehydration.
The injured resident, a resident’s legal guardian, or another family member wishing to represent them, and their attorney must establish that the serious injuries sustained were due to neglect by the facility and its staff.
Types of Nursing Home Neglect
The dependency on assistance from caretakers makes nursing home residents inherently more vulnerable to neglect. Various risk factors also contribute to an older adult’s vulnerability to neglect. Factors include social isolation, physical limitations, mental illness, cognitive disease or memory issues, and general aging. These characteristics also make the signs of neglect more challenging to detect. Common signs of nursing home neglect include:
- Malnutrition/ Dehydration
- Bedsores/ Pressure Ulcers
- Broken Bones
- New Infections
- Unexplained Injuries
- Personality Changes
- Hygiene Issues
- Wheelchair Injuries
Guardians and family members should also stay aware of additional neglect indicators that a staff member can exude including:
- A hostile or aggressive attitude towards residents or visitors,
- A pattern of medication errors,
- A decline in excellent hygiene care for patients; and
- History of ignoring a patient’s requests for care.
If such situations have occurred, an experienced elder care attorney can help gather relevant evidence and present a strong case on the resident’s behalf.
Damages in Nursing Home Neglect Lawsuits
Nursing home neglect has many physical, psychological, and emotional consequences. Negligent caregivers must be held responsible for the damages that their negligence caused. In South Carolina, victims of nursing home neglect may be entitled to economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages in a nursing home neglect case may include compensation for losses such as hospital bills, rehabilitation costs, and expenses for mental health treatment related to the neglect. Non-economic damages may include payment for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of the enjoyment of life.
In rare cases, the court may permit punitive damages designed to punish the wrongdoer. Further, if the neglect resulted in the wrongful death of a loved one, there may be additional damages available to the victim’s survivors.
Is Your Loved One Being Neglected at a South Carolina Nursing Home?
If you have a loved one in a South Carolina nursing home and are worried about their safety, contact the nursing home neglect attorneys at the Steinberg Law Firm. We have nearly 100 years of experience helping our clients pursue justice against those who wronged them. We can help you understand your rights and effectively prepare a case to hold the negligent nursing home responsible for your loved one’s deteriorating condition. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation with a Charleston area nursing home neglect lawyer, call (843) 720-2800. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.
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