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Nursing Home Trial Lawyers Association

Medical Malpractice Trial Lawyers Association

Elder Abuse, Abandonment and Nursing Home Neglect

          If we live long enough, all of us will ultimately lose independence and the ability to perform the simplest of tasks--brushing teeth in the morning, climbing into clothing, eating, getting into a chair or a bed. As skills decline, so vulnerability and dependency set in. One can no longer care for oneself at home, but the worst nightmare is that of losing independence, and becoming a “burden” on others. There is no desire to live in childrens’ homes because of that reality, even where that possibility exists, which it usually doesn’t. The proper, focused and dignified treatment of vulnerable and dependent adults is a human obligation.

 

           Businesses for profit have emerged, with all of the cottage industries that businesses spawn as necessary components of providing such care. These entities are critical—they are and should be well paid to provide the quality level of care and attention that cannot be obtained in a home environment-- three meals a day regardless of eating “skill,” attention, activities, socialization, interests, care, and assistance with daily living activities; perhaps most profoundly, medical care. Skilled nursing facilities can charge well in excess of $10,000 per month to any middle-class family, and skyrocket even from there.  But what goes on inside these facilities is mostly shielded from view.  And this is where the law steps in, to the extent that law can be enforced.    And when it is enforced, it is most effectively enforced by families witnessing and aggrieved by neglect

 

           Nursing home litigation claims arise under a variety of state and federal code and statutes.

 

Under state law:

  • RCW 74.34: The abuse of vulnerable adults statute prohibits the abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, or abandonment by family members, care providers, or any other persons who have a relationship with a vulnerable adult.

 

  • RCW 18.20 addresses assisted living facilities.

 

  • RCW 70.129 addresses long-term care resident rights, including quality of life.

 

  • WAC 388-97 covers nursing homes and provides for a variety of rights to nutrition, activity levels, dietary services, and medical care, and includes the right to informed consent when it comes to these residents’ treatment. WAC 388-97-0260. The code includes definitions of abandonment, abuse, exploitation, and neglect. See WAC 388-97-0001.

 

Under Federal Law:

  • The United States Code also includes requirements for nursing facilities, 42 U.S.C. § 1396r
  • The Code of Federal Regulations also sets out requirements for states and long-term care facilities.  See 42 C.F.R. § 483, et seq.
  • Nursing home federal requirements, including survey protocols, can be found at e.g.  James E. Allen’s Nursing Home Federal Requirements, 8th Ed., © 2015, Springer Publishing Co. 

 

 

              Many families either don’t know allow neglect to go on, because they accept what they see as the norm. It isn’t and it shouldn’t be.  In situations where the facility does not carry out its duty to these adults, remedies exist that can assist and impact all residents.

 

If you feel you have such concerns in any given situation, please contact the office for a consultation

 

 

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